Jurors see footage cut from Bashir's Jackson interview

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The Independent US

Jurors in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial got what might turn out to be their closest glimpse of the defendant speaking out on his own behalf as they watched unbroadcast outtakes from the Martin Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson.

The 46-year-old singer defended his love of children, said he's rather slit his wrists than harm one, insisted he was "not a nut" and disclosed how a chimpanzee called Bubbles would help him dust his bedroom, and learned to use and flush the toilet.

The defence in the case is seeking to argue that Mr Bashir willfully edited his documentary to cast Mr Jackson in the worst possible light, and showed the outtakes yesterday in an effort to set the record straight. Like many things in the weird world of Michael Jackson, however, the outtakes were not necessarily as complimentary as he might have imagined.

He skirted discussion of his marriage to Debbie Rowe, the mother of his first two children, his hands shaking visibly in the film footage as the subject was raised. He grew uncomfortable when Mr Bashir raised the question of plastic surgery. And he gave what might be construed as an unhelpful answer when asked about the notorious baby-dangling episode, in which he held his infant son Prince Michael II from the fourth floor of a Berlin hotel.

"They make it like I'm some kind of eccentric idiot dangling his baby over the balcony," Mr Jackson said indignantly, insisting he was holding the baby firmly.

Mr Jackson's lawyer, Tom Mesereau, is known to have a fondness for putting his defendants on the witness stand. Most legal experts, however, think he is unlikely to submit Mr Jackson to that kind of exposure, given his client's reputation for displaying unpredictable and often counter-productive behaviour.

During his opening statement, Mr Mesereau promised the jury that they would hear from Mr Jackson in his own words. Some observers suspected yesterday that it was this videotape which he might be referring to.

Some of the outtakes certainly depicted Mr Jackson in a sympathetic light. "I haven't been betrayed or deceived by children," he says at one point. "Adults have let me down."

At another point he commented: "I'm not a nut. I'm very smart. You can't come this far and be a nut."

But he also displayed his eccentric side when he talked about being so lonely his best company was chimpanzees and the mannequins he kept stuffed into his bedroom. He compared himself - favourably - to other iconic figures like Mother Teresa and Diana, Princess of Wales.

When discussing his marriage with Ms Rowe, he talked largely in generalities. "Im married to my fans," he said. "I'm married to my children. I'm married to God."

The Bashir documentary is central to the case because Mr Jackson's chief accuser, 15-year-old Gavin Arvizo, is shown on the film holding hands with him. Mr Jackson also talks about his love of sharing his bed with pubescent and pre-pubescent boys.

The airing of the documentary in February 2003 was viewed as a public relations disaster and triggered the police investigation that resulted in Mr Jackson's arrest eight months later.

One of Mr Jackson's lawyers from the period, David LeGrand, testified yesterday that Mr Jackson was "highly illiquid" with as much as $10m (£5.4m) in unpaid bills and regarded some of his closest aides as his enemies.

Mr Jackson denies all wrongdoing.

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