Judge rejects bid for Jackson charges to be thrown out for 'lack of evidence'

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The Independent US

The judge in Michael Jackson's child abuse trial has rejected a defence motion for an acquittal made on the ground that the prosecution witnesses lacked credibility.

The judge in Michael Jackson's child abuse trial has rejected a defence motion for an acquittal made on the ground that the prosecution witnesses lacked credibility.

Superior Court Judge Rodney S Melville then immediately called in the jury to begin hearing the defence case.

Robert Sanger, for the defence, had argued that witnesses such as the flight attendant Cynthia Bell, the former Jackson employee Jesus Salas, and Mr Jackson's former wife, Deborah Rowe, were called by the prosecution but gave testimony favorable to Jackson.

"The smoking gun evidence that these witnesses were supposed to present just didn't come through," he said. The judge responded that he was reluctant to make a decision about the credibility of the witnesses, suggesting that was the jury's job. Defence motions for acquittal are common when the prosecution rests, but are rarely successful.

The appeal came a day after prosecutors rested their case against Mr Jackson, who is on trial for allegedly molesting a boy, now 15, who spent time at his Neverland Ranch and appeared with him in the 2003 British television documentary Living With Michael Jackson.

The 46-year-old pop star has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges that include felony conspiracy with 28 overt acts involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

Further delays to the trial, which has already taken 10 weeks, were in prospect after questions were raised about one of the jurors, who could now be removed.

ABC News reported that a key witness, who testified that the singer molested him when he was a child, and a sister of juror number 11 work together in a small car-parts shop. This could lead to the removal of the juror, a 20-year-old Hispanic male cashier. "The fix would be to excuse the juror and substitute one of the alternates," Robert Ray, a lawyer, told ABC.

Court observers say Judge Melville needs to ask the juror what he knows immediately.

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