Wednesday, May 25, 2005
By Roger Friedman
A contract for $20,000 between two British tabloid reporters and the mother and stepfather of Michael Jackson‘s accuser has surfaced.
The reporters, Alec Byrne and David Gardner, had recently thought they would be called as defense witnesses in the Jackson child molestation case and were all set to bring in this vital document.
When the accuser’s mother, Janet Arvizo, testified for the prosecution, she told the jury she “wasn’t the kind of person” to sell her story — but apparently she was indeed.
In fact, Byrne and Gardner only got photographs of the Arvizo family, which were published abroad, because while looking for Janet Arvizo, they first went to her mother’s house in El Monte, Calif., back on Feb. 4, 2003.
That was the day after the Martin Bashir documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” aired in Britain.
When Arvizo learned the men wanted to buy her story, she exclaimed, “You are my angels” and instructed her mother to give the men pictures she had of her grandchildren.
Arvizo then gave the reporters a few quotes, which were used in the story that was published that weekend in the U.K. and in Australia.
So why has this story not surfaced in the Jackson trial? After all, it would undermine the testimony of both Arvizo and her husband, Jay Jackson.
That the sale of the story did not take place is a missing link. Evidently, Arvizo called comedian Chris Tucker, who testified in the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday, when she had the reporters up to $20,000.
In his testimony, Jay Jackson said the offer was only $15,000, and that he turned it down.
Some people involved in the case believe that at that point in the negotiations, Arvizo wanted to find Michael Jackson.
If her story was worth that much to the Brits, she might have figured her silence would be worth as much, or more, to Michael Jackson.
The reporters say that when they came to meet Arvizo at the appointed time a couple of days later, she had vanished.
The defense, which has not been strong on outlining the timeline in the case, may or may not be able to put this together for the weary jury.
Why Byrne and Gardner were not called for the defense remains a mystery of this trial. They could have easily impeached the testimony of both Jay Jackson and Arvizo. The article published abroad would have been a damning bit of evidence.
Where is the “secret” videotape that was shot of the packing and moving of the Arvizo family in the Michael Jackson case?
It was not played by the prosecution when it unveiled surveillance videos of the family made by Mark Geragos‘ private investigator, Brad Miller, several weeks ago.
Where is this tape? Why hasn’t it been shown? Does the defense even know about it?
Suddenly this much-talked-about move is about to come back into the Jackson trial as an issue.
On Thursday, I’ve learned, District Attorney Tom Sneddon, desperate to rehabilitate the much debased conspiracy charge against Jackson, will bring in the mover who put the Arvizos’ things into storage.
All of Dino’s Moving and Storage records have been subpoenaed as well. This could all backfire for the prosecution, because among the papers is said to be a June 2003 letter from Miller to Arvizo attorney William Dickerman releasing the storage vaults back to the Arvizos. Geragos is carbon-copied on it.
If the letter appears and makes it into evidence, Sneddon may have a lot of explaining to do. He raided Miller’s office months later because he said he thought Miller worked for Michael Jackson. The letter, sources say, would prove Sneddon knew otherwise.
Then there’s the family’s famous stay at the Country Inn and Suites in Calabasas, Calif. Why haven’t the receipts from that little adventure come into play for the defense?
This column was the first to reveal Janet Arvizo‘s numerous phone calls to family and friends during her “kidnapping.”
And here’s something else we haven’t seen presented: Arvizo demanded that Miller buy her a set of red Kipling luggage for the trip to Calabasas. She was very specific about the brand and color.
“She didn’t want people to see her things in plastic bags,” a source said.
The defense has the receipts, I am told.
Sneddon has asked to analyze more of Geragos’ phone records in a last-ditch effort to pump up the conspiracy. But did no one ever ask to see the Neverland phone records between Feb. 20 and March 12, 2003? They would show innumerable calls to numbers well known to the prosecution: Janet Arvizo’s friends and family.
As for Dickerman: If all the issues involving him return during the rebuttal, it would be interesting to see him come back and answer some of the questions I posed in yesterday’s column.
To wit: He testified that his first meeting with Janet Arvizo was on Feb. 25, 2003. But Arvizo herself said she met him in his office on the 21st in his Century City office, and then again on the 25th at the Laugh Factory.
At neither time did she mention she had been kidnapped or was being held hostage. Dickerman, an officer of the court, never picked up the phone and called the police or the FBI.
You would think a Hollywood lawyer who has to meet his client in a comedy club on the sly might have asked one or two questions more than Dickerman said he did on the stand. My guess is he did.
Yesterday’s testimonial double punch by the paralegal and the attorney who were hired by Janet Arvizo to represent her in her lawsuit against J.C. Penney, in which she got a settlement of $152,000, was powerful stuff.
Mary Holzer testified that Arvizo told her that the pictures in which she appeared battered and bruised from head to toe, and which she and her husband submitted as evidence in the J.C Penney case, were faked.
Arvizo told her she got the bruises not from the J.C. Penney security guards, but from her own husband.
Holzer said also Arvizo mentioned that her brother-in-law was in the Mexican mafia and could have Holzer and her kids killed if she spilled the beans.
The lawyer who worked on the case testified that he was shocked when the case finally got to court and Arvizo said she had been sexually molested by the J.C. Penney guards.
In 25 conversations about the incident, Arvizo had never mentioned it to him. He also concluded that he had been fooled by her.
Holzer’s story made the most sense. You may recall that when the prosecution showed the pictures of a battered Arvizo a few weeks ago, we wrote that they were not from the J.C. Penney incident. Knowledgeable sources told us about that right away.
Luckily, the Drudge Report published Janet Arvizo’s mug shot from the Penney’s arrest, which showed no signs of bruises. That’s because the bruises came later.