The star signs autographs and buys toys the same day serious charges are made against him

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 29, 2004 08:00 AM
Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Michael Jackson, whose fate may be decided in a Santa Barbara County courthouse when his child molestation trial begins in January, turned up Tuesday night in a Texas shopping mall, where he signed autographs and bought toys and stuffed animals, reports the Associated Press.

Jackson was in Houston “on business, and just decided to drop by the mall,” spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said.

Jackson, 45, was first spotted by someone at the mall, who asked the star for his autograph. Houston TV station KTRK reported that Jackson, who apparently was in Houston to meet with a lawyer about a music contract issue, shook hands with those who approached him.

He also sampled a pretzel at one shop.

Earlier on Tuesday, in California, prosecutors in his case offered a first glimpse behind the conspiracy charges against Jackson, claiming that the singer imprisoned a young boy and forced his family to make a video absolving him of molestation claims.

Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss told the court the star manipulated the situation by, among other things, offering lavish vacations to the boy’s parents.

Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. – who is seeking dismissal of the case – ridiculed the assumptions, saying: “The idea that they were imprisoned and forced to fly on private jets to Florida, to socialize with celebrities such as Chris Tucker, is absurd on its face. It would be laughed out of court by a jury.”