Jackson's lawyers to rest their case early

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The Independent US

The defence in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial may rest early this week, ending its case in less than half the time the pop star's attorneys had initially said they would need.

The defence in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial may rest early this week, ending its case in less than half the time the pop star's attorneys had initially said they would need.

His lawyers had said at the outset that they would need about six weeks, and possibly up to eight, to present their case, which began on 5 May. A list of more than 300 possible witnesses was submitted, including stellar names from Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross to the television chatshow luminary Jay Leno, whom the defence was expected to call on Tuesday.

Jackson's lawyers presented a rapid succession of witnesses who supported his claim that he did not molest a 13-year-old boy and that there was no conspiracy to hold the boy's family captive.

Among the most powerful defence witnesses was the actor Macaulay Culkin, who spent part of his childhood as a guest at Jackson's Neverland ranch in California and said that Jackson never touched him inappropriately. Two other young men who spent time at Neverland as children also denied accounts by prosecution witnesses that they were seen in inappropriate situations with Jackson.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting Gavin Arviso in February or March 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive. Prosecutors argued that the conspiracy was intended to force them to make a video rebutting a TV documentary made by Martin Bashir. In the programme Gavin appeared with Jackson, who told Bashir that he let children sleep in his bed but that it was non-sexual.(AP)

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