With Friday’s court date looming large, lawyers for Michael Jackson claim that Santa Barbara County prosecutors in the star’s child molestation case are procrastinating in giving the defense access to interviews with dozens of witnesses and hundreds of items seized in raids.
“Mr. Jackson’s right to a fair trial is jeopardized by the undue delay of discovery by the prosecution,” the defense said in a May 13 motion requesting that the judge give prosecutors a deadline for handing over currently withheld materials, reports the Associated Press. The document was only made public on Tuesday.
The defense claims that 300 items seized in sheriff’s raids at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch and other locations last November have yet to be turned over by prosecutors, who counter that the items are still undergoing forensic examination, the court papers state.
As evidence of the massive nature of the Jackson investigation, AP notes that the defense has already received more than 1,100 pages of documents, including police reports and summaries of witness interviews, 51 audiotapes and two videotapes in three “waves” since the initial discovery request in January.
Because of the volume of evidence apparently still to be reviewed, there could conceivably be a delay in the upcoming trial, which Judge Rodney Melville has ordered to take place this year.
Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges of child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent, and conspiracy involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Friday’s hearing is for Judge Melville to consider both the defense request to force discovery and another to lower Jackson’s $3 million bail.