> >Jackson arrives for start of his trial

: Jackson arrives for start of his trial

: Jackson arrives for start of his trial.


About 100 fans of pop star Michael Jackson cheered and chanted Monday as the singer arrived for the first day of his trial on child molestation charges.

Jackson arrived at the Santa Barbara County courthouse in a black SUV with tinted windows. He stepped out of the vehicle wearing an all-white suit and waved to his fans.

An assistant held an umbrella over his head as he entered the courthouse, where he underwent a brief security check before going into the courtroom.

Jury selection was set to begin with the first pool of 300 potential jurors, who are to appear in two groups of 150 for the morning and afternoon court sessions.

Though Jackson will be in the courtroom, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville, wanting to make room for potential jurors, ordered the pop star to leave behind the entourage of assistants and family members who accompanied him in previous court appearances.

Monday's proceedings come a day after Jackson issued a video statement calling leaks from a grand jury "disgusting and false."

"Please keep an open mind and let me have my day in court," he said in the message posted on his Web site. "I will be acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told."

He added that the proceedings have been "a nightmare for my family."

Melville approved the release of the message.

A grand jury indicted Jackson, 46, on four counts of child molestation, four counts of administering an intoxicating agent, one count of attempted child molestation and one count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Earlier this month, ABC News reported details of secret grand jury testimony that included lurid allegations from Jacksons accuser about what the cancer-stricken boy said happened between him and Jackson behind closed doors at the singer's Neverland ranch in 2003.

Jacksons attorneys blasted the release of the material, noting that Melville had ordered it sealed. They also complained that, because grand jury proceedings include the prosecution but not the defense, the accuser's statements were never subject to challenge during cross-examination.

Last week, Melville denied a defense motion to question prospective jurors individually. Defense attorneys had argued that group questioning could contaminate the jury pool.

The boy making the accusations and his brother should testify in open court, Melville ruled, but he said he will prohibit sketch artists from drawing them during their testimony.

The prosecution wanted the boys to testify in a separate room without showing their faces in court. Jacksons attorneys disputed the prosecution's claim that the boys needed protection from the public eye, saying they had testified in other cases and had recently been spotted shopping in Beverly Hills with the district attorney.

In addition, Melville granted the prosecution's request to submit adult material seized from Neverland. However, the prosecution cannot refer to the material as "pornography," "obscene" or "erotic." Instead, the judge ruled that the district attorney must use the terms "adult" or "sexually explicit."

He ruled against admitting any material seized outside Neverland or any materials from a 1993 case in which Jackson faced similar allegations.

The self-proclaimed "King of Pop" resolved that case with a multimillion-dollar, out-of-court settlement, and no charges were filed.

The prosecution has said it plans to submit a sexually explicit magazine with the boys' fingerprints as well as Jacksons.

Jackson attorney Brian Oxman said evidence will show his client took the magazine away from the boys, but prosecutor Ron Zonen said that explanation fails to account for why there are fingerprints on the inside of the magazine.



2005-2024. ! homeenglish@mail.ru