Jackson pleads not guilty to charges, including some new ones:
- Michael Jackson pleaded not guilty Friday to an indictment charging him with child molestation and a conspiracy count alleging child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
The indictment also included four counts of lewd acts involving a minor child, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent.
The alleged child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion are not individual charges. Rather they are alleged as the circumstances leading to the conspiracy count.
....The indictment, issued in secret earlier this month, replaces charges filed by prosecutors that alleged seven counts of lewd or lascivious conduct involving a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicant to a child under 14.
....Thomas Mesereau Jr., a veteran criminal defense attorney, took over the case last weekend after Jackson decided to remove Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman, the two high-profile lawyers who had been directing his defense. The star said he wanted lawyers who could devote full time to his case.
With an indictment, prosecutors don't have to put on a preliminary hearing in front of the judge to show there is enough evidence to put the pop star on trial.
Jackson, who was scolded by the judge for being late to his previous arraignment, arrived 40 minutes early. He waved to several hundred fans as he entered the courtroom under an umbrella.
...."The indictment means things are getting serious," said Loyola University Professor Laurie Levenson. She said Jackson's behavior at the arraignment sets the tone for the rest of the case. [AP]
Spin this any way you wish, but this is deadly serious for Jackson - those new charges sound ugly as hell: "a conspiracy count alleging child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion."