As the prosecution in the Michael Jackson trial winds down its case, it’s had to undo the damage done to its argument last week by its own witness, Jackson ex-wife Debbie Rowe. She acknowledged that she lied during an interview videotaped by Jackson associates when she praised Jackson’s parenting skills — since she hadn’t even seen the couple’s two kids, Prince Michael I and Paris, for years — but denied that her answers were scripted or coached. Rather, she said, she agreed to be interviewed as a favor to Jackson, who she said she still considered a ”friend,” one who she said had been ”easily manipulated” by the ”opportunistic vultures” who were his advisers. On Tuesday, however, a sheriff’s investigator testified that Rowe had told police she actually considered her ex-husband a ”sociopath,” and that the two of them had a longstanding agreement, dating back to their 1999 divorce, that she would only speak positively about him in public.
Sgt. Steve Robel said he interviewed Rowe last year during the investigation of the charges against Jackson, about a year after she’d praised her ex on the interview tape, which had aired on Fox as a rebuttal to Martin Bashir’s unflattering ABC documentary. Robel said that during his interview with Rowe, she ”referred to Michael as a sociopath and his children as being possessions.” He also testified that Rowe said she and Jackson had ”a plan” for her ”to talk positive about Mr. Jackson” in all her post-divorce public statements about him.
Prosecutors also hoped to bolster the conspiracy charge by calling to the stand an accountant who had audited Jackson’s finances. John Duross O’Bryan said that, in February 2003, when the Bashir documentary did its damage to Jackson’s reputation, the self-styled King of Pop’s debts outweighed his assets by $285 million, thanks in part to profligate spending of $20 million to $30 million per year beyond his means. The prosecution contends that Jackson all but imprisoned the young accuser and his family to compel them to appear in the rebuttal video that would help repair the damage to Jackson’s career, in part because he was in such dire financial straits. Jackson has denied the charges against him, and his defense team argued that O’Bryan undervalued Jackson’s 50 percent share of the lucrative Sony-ATV publishing catalog, which includes licensing rights to the Beatles’ songs, among others. O’Bryan argued that Jackson’s share was worth far less than the half belonging to Sony (Jackson’s longtime record label) because he’d borrowed heavily against it. The prosecution is expected to rest its case later this week.