Two books featuring pictures of naked boys that were seized from Michael Jackson's bedroom in 1993, one of them personally inscribed by the music star, were introduced as evidence in his child-molesting trial here Friday.
"Look at the true spirit of happiness and joy in these boys' faces, this is the spirit of boyhood, a life I never had and will always dream of," read the handwritten inscription inside "BOYS Will Be Boys!," a 1966 hardcover with boys in swimsuits jumping into water on the cover. "This is the life I want for my children. MJ."
The two books were seized by Los Angeles police during an investigation of child molestation in 1993. Jackson reached a reported $20-million civil settlement in that case and charges were never brought, but testimony about it was introduced to corroborate the current charges that he molested a 13-year-old in 2003.
The second book, "The Boy: A Photographic Essay," appeared to be a gift from a fan. The inscription read, "to michael from your fan xxxooo Rhonda."
Defense lawyers argued that the books, found in a locked file cabinet inside a locked closet, were discovered too long ago to matter in the current case. "I think it's just an effort to prejudice the case," said Jackson lawyer Robert Sanger.
Prosecutors previously introduced adult magazines seized at Jackson's Neverland Ranch in 2003, and testimony about Jackson exploring pornographic Web sites with minors. Judge Rodney Melville admitted the books after prosecutors said 90 percent of the pictures in one and 10 percent in the other were of nudes, and showed a "prurient interest in adolescent boys" that bolstered testimony about what Jackson did in 1993.
Jackson also is charged with conspiring with several of his aides to hold the 13-year-old boy and his family prisoner at his ranch to pressure them into making a video that would rebut a damaging 2003 documentary in which the boy appeared, and Jackson admitted to sharing a bed with boys.
Friday's testimony followed two difficult days for the prosecution, as Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe would not confirm that she was pressured into helping with the same rebuttal video, and suggested that Jackson may not have known what his aides were doing.
One attempt by prosecutors to rebound from that setback failed Friday, when Melville barred testimony from a tabloid reporter that Jackson aide Ronald Konitzer referred in a conversation to the 13-year-old's family having "escaped" from Neverland. Melville said cross-examination would have involved matters protected under California's press shield law.