MJ Trial Winds Down

The defense rested its case May 25th in theMichael Jacksonchild molestation trial, capping a stranger-than-usual week of testimony in a trial where the surreal passed for normal on a good day.

Comedians Jay Leno and Chris Tucker took the stand just days after Judge Rodney Melville decided to bar the defense from calling talk-show host Larry King as a witness. Leno, who by most accounts didn’t help MJ much, ended his testimony by plugging his TV show.

“We have Renee Zellweger on the show tonight,” the “Tonight Show” host cheekily informed the court.

Those who couldn’t get a coveted seat inside the courtroom didn’t have to miss the performance, though. The E! cable network’s daily re-enactment of the trial featured late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel doing an uncanny impersonation of his rival, right down to the famous lisp, while wearing a gray wig and fake chin.

Jackson’s defense, led by attorney Thomas Mesereau, spent most of the previous three weeks portraying the alleged victim and his mother as serial celebrity fleecers and con artists.

A series of witnesses described the mother as a grifter and welfare cheat who led her family to celebrities with tales of woe about her cancer-stricken son – with the goal of getting her hands on their money.

Leno testified that he visited the boy while in the hospital, but felt the meeting was scripted. When police contacted him, the comedian said he thought the family was looking for money. However, he didn’t provide the defense a knockout blow, testifying that the boy never asked for any cash.

Tucker testified that he warned Jackson to “watch out” for the accuser’s family.

Most damaging to the prosecution, yet overshadowed in the press by the Leno appearance, was testimony by a paralegal who said the accuser’s mom, bruised by an abusive husband, tried to bilk J.C. Penney by claiming the bruises came from the chain’s security guards. The paralegal testified that the mother admitted this to her, then threatened her life if she took the information to the cops.

Likewise, a contract for $20,000 between the accuser’s mom and two British tabloid reporters has apparently surfaced.

The defense contended that the mother went to authorities only after she realized that the family’s days of lavish living at Jacko’s Neverland Ranch were numbered.

In the 10 weeks the defense presented its case, it called 50 witnesses of an original witness list that comprised some 300 names – including Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Kobe Bryant. The biggest names to take the stand were arguably Leno, Tucker and former child star Macauley Culkin.

With the defense case rested, the prosecution began calling rebuttal witnesses. Final arguments were probably about a week away.