Michael Jackson will not testify at his molestation trial, and his defense team expects to rest its case by the first week of June, sources close to the case told ABC News.
Jackson's defense appears to be winding down. Its witness list is down to fewer than 40 and has been cut dramatically from the more than 100 on the list before testimony began in February, sources told ABC News. Jackson, sources said, is one of the witnesses his lawyers have decided to cut from the list, and the defense expects to rest its case in the next few weeks.
Jackson, 46, is on trial for allegedly molesting a now-15-year-old boy who spent time at his Neverland ranch and appeared with him in the 2003 British documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." He has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges that include felony conspiracy with 28 overt acts involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Confidence by the Defense
In opening statements, lead Jackson defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. appeared to hint to jurors that "The King of Pop" would testify, twice using the phrase, "Michael will tell you …"
"Michael Jackson will tell you one time at Neverland he got a very bad feeling and intuition," Mesereau said at one point. "Mr. Jackson will tell you he found those kids going through his magazines," he said at another time during his opening statements.
Throughout the trial, sources close to the case repeatedly told ABC News that Jackson would take the stand. However, ABC News has been told, Mesereau has changed his mind and decided not to put the singer on the stand. Some court observers believe that this shows that the defense is confident in its case and does not feel that Jackson's testimony is necessary.
"Things are going well, and they just feel that, why risk it all at this point?" said ABC News legal analyst Dana Cole. "Why prolong the trial? Let's just leave well enough alone and call it a day and get out of Dodge."
Mesereau, sources told ABC News, believes he did not commit himself to putting Jackson on the stand because he did not use the word "testify" when he made references to what "The King of Pop" would tell the jury. He could argue that jurors did hear from Jackson through videotape filmed by the singer's personal videographer that was played at the trial. On the video, Jackson is not challenged by prosecutors during cross-examination and says things such as, "I would slit my wrists if I were to hurt children" and "I'm a completely innocent guy."
Hearing Expected Over Larry King's Potential Testimony
When trial resumes today, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville is expected to hold a hearing to determine whether CNN talk show host Larry King, who is on Jackson's defense witness list, will testify.
King, sources told ABC News, will be at the courthouse today, and Melville will determine whether King's testimony is relevant. The defense contends the accuser's civil attorney, Larry Feldman -- who represented the 1993 alleged victim who accused Jackson of molestation and ultimately reached a settlement reportedly exceeding $20 million -- told King that he believed the boy's mother was money-hungry. Feldman has denied the conversation, and King has hinted he will refuse to answer, citing reporter privilege, sources told ABC News.