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Jackson witness jailed; lawyer hospitalized

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Most of the drama in the Michael Jackson trial on Wednesday had little to do with the testimony. While jurors spent much of the day looking at images from adult magazines, a prosecution witness who had served as a Jackson bodyguard at the time of the alleged molestations was indicted in Las Vegas and charged with numerous felony counts stemming from four armed robberies. On the defense side, at the end of the day’s court proceedings, Jackson attorney Brian Oxman suddenly fell ill and was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for pneumonia.

CNN reports that Christopher Eric Carter has been charged in connection with four armed robberies that took place between Oct. 2003 (two months after he left Jackson’s employ) and Feb. 2005. According to the indictment, police arrested Carter on Feb. 19 after matching his fingerprints to those found on a freezer at a Jack in the Box restaurant that was robbed on Feb. 2, and they found in his garbage a mask, made from a white T-shirt with eye holes cut out, that the robber had worn. Carter, who had been convicted of drug charges in Maryland in 2000 (two years before he began working for Jackson), is now charged with 15 counts, including first-degree kidnapping (for allegedly holding people against their will during the robberies), burglary, robbery, coercion, and possession of a firearm by an ex-felon. Held on $265,000 bond, he is due to answer the charges in court on Monday.

Carter, who worked for Jackson from Aug. 2002 to Aug. 2003, had testified to the grand jury in the Jackson case that he had seen both Jackson and the accuser drinking alcohol out of soda cans on a flight from Miami, and that he had seen the boy staggering drunkenly at Neverland, with the boy indicating to him that Jackson condoned his drinking. He has not testified at the trial, and it wasn’t clear if the prosecution still wanted to call him to the witness stand.

In another possible setback for the prosecution, Judge Rodney Melville issued a ruling that barred the use of erotica stored on Jackson’s computer hard drive as evidence. The defense successfully argued that none of the materials had been cached to the hard drive during the period during which the molestations allegedly occurred, and that there was no way of proving that the boy or his brother had seen any of it. Of course, the prosecution has not yet presented any indication that the brothers had seen any of the 75 images from Jackson’s adult magazines that were shown to the jury on Wednesday; the magazines do not bear any DNA from the family, according to the Associated Press.

Jackson has made headlines over the past couple weeks for his ailing back (which has twice caused trial delays) and his sickly appearance in court, but on Wednesday, it was Brian Oxman, a member of his legal team, who fell ill. According to Reuters, Jackson dabbed at his face with a tissue and helped remove his coat and tie while a bailiff called for help. Oxman was taken to Marian Medical Center and treated for pneumonia, his law partner, Maureen Jaroscak, told Reuters. ”He’s fine,” she said. ”He’s not very happy that they want to keep him overnight, but otherwise he’s fine.”

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