Michael Jackson's child molestation case went to the jury yesterday (03JUN05), after the defence hit out at prosecutors' claims that the star has a history of illegal conduct with boys.

Jackson's defence portrayed the 46-year-old singer as a victim of grifters trying to pull "the biggest con of their careers".

Defence attorney THOMAS MESEREAU JR said in a forceful closing argument that urged acquittal on all charges, "Ladies and gentlemen this has been a nightmare for Mr Jackson."

The prosecutor countered by telling jurors they would probably ask themselves why Jackson would molest his accuser.

Senior Deputy District Attorney RON ZONEN stated, "Because he could... This child was in love with him. This child would do anything he said."

The eight women and four men on the jury have been ordered to begin deliberations on the 10-count indictment against Jackson and have been given 98 pages of instructions to guide them.

They spent about two hours deliberating before going home for the weekend yesterday.

More than 130 witnesses were brought before them, including the now-15-year-old boy who told of being molested by Jackson, and three young men including actor Macaulay Culkin, who said as boys they spent time with Jackson and were never molested or inappropriately touched.

The jurors listened to the case's opening statements 14 weeks ago, learning that Jackson was accused of molesting a teen cancer survivor in 2003, plying him with alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive. Jackson denies all charges.

04/06/2005 01:55