Jurors see video of bedroom 'where Jackson abused boy'

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The Independent US

Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial were given a video tour of his Neverland Ranch yesterday, including footage of the cluttered, spangly bedroom where the singer is alleged to have molested a 13-year-old recovering cancer patient.

Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial were given a video tour of his Neverland Ranch yesterday, including footage of the cluttered, spangly bedroom where the singer is alleged to have molested a 13-year-old recovering cancer patient.

The video was shot by the Santa Barbara county sheriff's department on 18 November 2003, the day the molestation case broke and the police swarmed through the ranch in search of evidence to substantiate the boy's claims.

The jury saw a sparkling bedspread, pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Temple, several televisions and stacks of videos. Mr Jackson's fixation with children and the recreation of a childhood setting was most apparent in two rooms referred to as the "doll room" and the "toy room", which were filled with models of superheroes and characters from the Star Wars films, as well as dolls of every conceivable size.

It was the second time this week that the jury in the central California town of Santa Maria were given an inside glimpse of Mr Jackson's world, after they watched Martin Bashir's 2003 documentary Living With Michael Jackson. In both cases, the prosecution was trying to give the jury a context in which to judge subsequent testimony. After brief testimony from Albert Lafferty, the sheriff's deputy who shot the video, the prosecution called the alleged molestation victim's sister, an 18-year-old student, who was asked about the unhappy history that led her family to seek help from a clutch of celebrities including Mr Jackson.

She addressed one of the most problematic issues for the prosecution, the truthfulness of the mother. She agreed with the prosecution that her mother had been repeatedly beaten by her father, "too many to count, so many". He also beat her and her two brothers, she said.

She also said that she, her two brothers and her mother were flown in a private jet to Miami and taken to the pop superstar's hotel suite on the night in February 2003 the Martin Bashir documentary was due to air in the United States. "He [Jackson] was kind of, like, upset about it. He didn't want us to see it," the sister told the jury. She added that at one point her mother left the suite but was brought back by Jackson's aides.

Her brother and Mr Jackson spent several minutes alone behind closed doors that day, she said, adding her brother was behaving strangely. "He was just very hyper, very talkative, running around, very playful, more talkative, more jumpy."

The defence intends to depict the mother as a serial litigator and liar who coached her children into making the molestation claim for financial gain. The prosecution wants to show the mother as a victim too, principally of her husband, but then of Mr Jackson and his entourage. The mother once stated in a civil suit that her husband had not hit her. The prosecution wants to show she lied because she was afraid of being beaten again.

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