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The Michael Jackson Trial

Attorney says Jackson will not testify

Comedians Leno and Tucker: Accuser had contacted them

Jay Leno arrives at the Santa Maria, California, courthouse Tuesday.
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Jay Leno testifies as the defense probes the finances of the accuser's mom.
Michael Jackson
Mark Geragos

SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) -- Talk-show host Jay Leno testified Tuesday that he received several phone messages from Michael Jackson's accuser in 2000 and talked to him briefly on the phone, but the comedian said neither the boy nor his family asked him for money.

"I was never asked for money," Leno told jurors in Jackson's child molestation trial, undercutting the defense's contention that the family had a habit of using the boy's bout with cancer to get money from celebrities.

However, Leno's testimony that he talked to the accuser contradicts what the boy said earlier in the trial when he denied speaking to the comedian, only leaving him a phone message.

Leno acknowledged that when police contacted him to ask if he thought the family was after money, he said, "I think so." But Tuesday he said that he had "assumed that" and no request for money was made.

Leno's testimony came as a Jackson attorney said Tuesday the defense would rest its case Wednesday -- without calling the pop star to the witness stand.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. told the judge comedian Chris Tucker, who took the stand late on Tuesday, would be its last witness.

In his opening statement, Mesereau suggested that Jackson would testify when he used the phrase "Michael Jackson will tell you" several times while addressing the jury.

Testifying for the defense Tuesday, Tucker said his first introduction to the family of Jackson's accuser was at the Laugh Factory, a Los Angeles comedy club.

The boy's father had come up to him and said that his son "loved me and was dying of cancer," Tucker said. The comedian testified that he then agreed to attend a fund-raiser for the boy at the club, where they met for the first time.

After the fund-raiser, Tucker said the boy told him the event "didn't make any money, and they needed some money," so Tucker wired the family $1,500. He also testified that he took the boy and his siblings to the mall to buy clothes and also to an amusement park, and that he often included them on outings with his own son.

In 2001, Tucker said the family traveled to Las Vegas as his guests to visit him on a movie set. He said he also gave the accuser his phone number, and the boy began calling on a regular basis.

Tucker also revealed that it was through the boy that he first met Jackson, whom he said he now considers a friend.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon said the prosecution's rebuttal case, which would begin after Tucker concludes his testimony Wednesday, should be wrapped up by Thursday.

In other testimony Tuesday, the office manager for an attorney who represented the accuser's family in a civil lawsuit against J.C. Penney said the boy's mother confided in her that the injuries they claimed were inflicted by store security guards during an altercation in 1998 were actually the result of beatings by her then-husband.

Mary Elizabeth Holzer also said the mother told her that she sent her children to a comedy camp because "she wanted them to become good actors so she could tell them what to say."

start quoteI'm not Batman.end quote
-- Jay Leno

The mother also expressed concern that her younger son would not be able to remember "what we practiced" when he was deposed in the civil case, Holzer said.

Also taking the stand briefly Tuesday was the 9-year-old granddaughter of the late Marlon Brando, whose father, Miko, is a friend of Jackson.

The girl said she was visiting Neverland at the same time as the accuser and his younger brother, and she saw them crashing golf cars on purpose and throwing candy from the top of the carnival rides.

"They were driving all crazy," she said.

Leno: Accuser seemed 'scripted'

Leno testified he thought the boy's phone messages were "overly effusive" and "sounded very adult-like." He recalled that the boy said he was a big fan and praised him as the "greatest."

"He seemed a little scripted in his speech," Leno said.

He also said "it seemed a little odd to me" that such a young boy would be a fan of "a comedian in his 50s."

"I'm not Batman," Leno said.

The talk-show host said he called the boy in the hospital and spoke to his mother before having a brief conversation with him. Leno said he sent the boy an autographed picture, a hat and other "Tonight Show" paraphernalia, which he often does for sick children.

Leno said he remembered "hearing someone talking [in the background]" but could not identify the voice.

He said he eventually asked Louise Palanker, a comedian who befriended the accuser and his family, to ask them to stop calling. Leno said Palanker assured him that she would take care of it, and the calls stopped.

In testimony that lasted about half an hour, Leno failed to support Mesereau's assertion in his opening statement that the comedian would say that he was so suspicious of the family's motives that he contacted police.

Leno said police called him to ask about his interactions with the family, a conversation that he later learned was secretly recorded. The identity of the police agency that called him was not disclosed in court.

Leno's appearance at the Santa Maria courthouse drew stronger-than-usual interest in the Jackson trial. More than 110 people lined up early to compete in a daily lottery for seats in the courtroom, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Questions about injuries

Tuesday's testimony by Holzer concerned a civil suit the family filed against J.C. Penney in 1998, alleging that they had been beaten and injured by security guards during an altercation that began when the guards tried to apprehend Jackson's accuser for shoplifting. The case was later settled out of court.

Earlier in the trial, the prosecution introduced photographs showing the mother badly bruised, which were taken to demonstrate her injuries for the civil case. She also testified that her son's arm was broken.

But Holzer said the mother confided in her that the bruises were actually inflicted after the fight with the security guards by her then-husband, whom she said was "raging" and blamed her for what had happened. The mother also said the boy's arm was broken when he tried to defend her during the beating, Holzer said.

She said she informed the mother that she could not lie about the beating and needed to tell her attorney the truth. But the woman instructed Holzer not to "say anything to anybody," she said.

Holzer said the mother later told her that she had confided in her husband what she had disclosed to Holzer -- and warned the office manager that he was "raging" and might try to harm her.

Also testifying about the J.C. Penney case Tuesday was Anthony Ranieri, a personal injury lawyer who represented the family in the case. He said that during the mother's deposition, she alleged that she had been fondled 25 times by the security guards -- something she had never told him before during more than two dozen conversations about the case.

Ranieri also said the mother said in her deposition that her husband never beat her -- something she acknowledged was a lie during her earlier testimony in the Jackson case.

Jackson, 46, was indicted last year on 10 felony counts, including four counts of committing a lewd act on a child; one count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion; one count of attempting to commit a lewd act on a child; and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent to assist in the commission of a felony.

The singer pleaded not guilty to the charges.

CNN's Dree De Clamecy contributed to this report.

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