Saturday, August 21, 2004
Santa Maria, Calif. The property manager of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch testified Friday that sheriff's deputies who came to search the ranch for evidence last year wanted to look in areas that were not specified in a search warrant.
Joseph Marcus took the witness stand during a pretrial hearing as the defense sought to prove authorities went overboard when they swept into the estate on Nov. 18, 2003.
Marcus said he initially cooperated when the investigators arrived.
"I worked with them all day," he said, adding that he studied the search warrant they presented to make sure he admitted them only to the areas specified.
He said he agreed to let them into Jackson's office and a few other areas that were not on the search warrant when they said they were doing so only to establish that the locations were secure and no one was there.
"I cooperated and opened the door, but then they decided they wanted to do a search," Marcus testified. "I objected because it was not in the scope of the search warrant."
A deputy told him he would call and have the search warrant amended, but Marcus said that was not done as far as he knew and added that he also was pressured to answer questions by authorities.
"I initially refused to and said I wasn't really interested," Marcus said. "I said, 'Do I have to answer questions?' and they said, 'No, if you have nothing to hide.' I said there's nothing to hide here. It is what it is."
Friday's testimony came at a pretrial hearing in which defense attorneys are trying to limit the evidence prosecutors can use at the Jan. 31 trial.
Defense attorneys argue that the search of Neverland, which lasted 15 hours and involved about 40 officers, was overly broad and unjustified.
A prosecutor asked Marcus about whether alcohol was served at Neverland and the witness said it was not. The judge halted questioning on the topic after the defense objected that it was off the point of the hearing.
Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.