For the second time in recent weeks, Michael Jackson failed to appear on time at his trial because, on the way to court, he had taken a mysterious detour to the hospital. This time, he incurred the wrath of Judge Rodney Melville, who issued a bench warrant for the singer’s arrest and threatened to revoke his bail if he did not show up within an hour. Jackson finally appeared around 9:40 on Thursday morning, about five minutes after the hour ran out, dressed in pajamas and hobbling to his seat with the assistance of bodyguards.
Outside the court, Jackson spokeswoman Raymone Bain told the Associated Press that the 46-year-old’s back ”gave out on him” upon awakening Thursday morning and had gone to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital in hopes of being prescribed a muscle relaxant that would allow him to attend the trial. ”He knows the seriousness of this. He’s not play-acting,” Bain said.
It was the second time Jackson had missed court time due to a last-minute trip to the hospital. Last month, as jury selection began, Jackson failed to appear in court; his lawyer announced later that day that he’d been admitted to an area hospital to be treated for a serious case of flu, resulting in a weeklong postponement of the selection process. A year ago, Jackson was late to his arraignment, prompting Judge Melville to scold him with a ”polite warning” for what he considered ”an insult to the court.”
Thursday’s proceedings were expected to begin with additional testimony from Jackson’s 15-year-old accuser, who first took the stand on Wednesday but had not yet discussed the specific criminal allegations against Jackson. The singer has pleaded not guilty to charges that he molested the boy, served him alcohol, and conspired to imprison the boy’s family at Neverland to coerce them into appearing in his video rebuttal to Martin Bashir’s documentary.