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Michael Jackson's fate is now in the hands of a jury in Santa Maria, California. The pop singer's three-month-long child-molestation trial came to a close this afternoon. The defense and the prosecution played dueling videotapes of Jackson and his young accuser. As NPR's Luke Burbank reports, it was all about leaving the jury with a powerful last impression.
LUKE BURBANK reporting:
Defense attorney Tom Mesereau spent the morning playing video clips of Jackson, during which the singer talked about how lonely he was, describing times he would walk down the streets asking random people to be his friend. The tapes were aimed at humanizing Jackson for the jury. Mesereau repeatedly called Jackson's accusers `actors, con artists and liars.'
When it was his turn for rebuttal, prosecutor Ron Zonen again tried to shore up the credibility of the accuser's mother, stating that she never asked for or received any money from any celebrities, as the Jackson camp has maintained. Zonen also replayed a videotape that many legal analysts have called the prosecution's ace in the hole, a video of Jackson's accuser making his first allegations to investigators. In the tape, the small boy, wearing shorts and slumping in his chair, told investigators that the pop star touched him inappropriately a number of times in 2003.
The case is now in the hands of the jury. With 150 witnesses and stacks of evidence to consider, some jury experts say it could be the middle of next week before a verdict is reached. If convicted of all 10 charges against him, which include child molestation, conspiracy to keep the accuser's family captive and providing alcohol to a minor, he could serve up to 18 years, but that would be a maximum sentence. If convicted on the substantial charges in the case, Jackson could serve something in the range of three to seven years. Luke Burbank, NPR News, Santa Maria, California.
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