Michael Jackson keeps his counsel as defence rests

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The Independent US

The defence rested in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial after the final witness queried the motives of the singer's accuser.

After nearly four months of sometimes riveting, occasionally tawdry but more often mind-numbing testimony, the trial finally neared a close, when the actor and comedian Chris Tucker took the stand.

Jurors at the trial in Santa Maria, California, will now not have the opportunity to hear directly from Mr Jackson about what did or did not happen behind closed doors at his famed Neverland estate. Thomas Mesereau, for the defence, had indicated in his opening statements that they would be hearing from the entertainer.

In the end, however, jurors will have to satisfy themselves with about three hours of video-taped interviews with Mr Jackson played earlier in the trial, which began on 31 January. On one tape, he was seen to remark: "I haven't been betrayed or deceived by children. Adults have let me down."

Mr Tucker, who began testimony on Tuesday evening and resumed yesterday, befriended Gavin Arvizo, who was allegedly molested by Mr Jackson in 2003. Mr Tucker said: "He was really smart and he was cunning at times, and his brother ... was definitely cunning." The defence was hoping to support its argument that the family of the boy accusing Mr Jackson was out to exploit his earlier battle with cancer to raise money from famous people.

Now the defence team has rested, prosecutors will begin a rebuttal that is likely to last at least a day. Closing arguments will probably begin next Tuesday before jurors get the case.

This has been a week of celebrity testimony, with both Mr Tucker brought to the stand and, before him, the late-night television comedian Jay Leno. Mr Leno testified on Tuesday that he had been called several times in 2000 by the boy when he was being treated for cancer. But he added that at no time did he give him or his family any money.

Mr Tucker, best known for his roles with Jackie Chan in the Rush Hour films, did confirm that he had given "probably $1,500 or more" to a foundation for the boy when he learntthat a fundraiser organised for him by his family had failed to raise sufficient money. A number of other celebrities had been expected to testify for the defence, but in the end they were not called. They include Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Kobe Bryant. There has been no comment from Mr Jackson, 46, about the decision that he would not testify.

Mr Jackson is charged with child molestation, attempted child molestation, giving the boy alcohol to facilitate the molestation and conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive until they agreed to rebut a British television documentary that risked to the damage the star.

In the documentary, Mr Jackson spoke of friendships with young boys and allowing them to sleep in his bed with him.

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