LATEST: The defence in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial rested it's case this morning (25MAY05) without calling on the singer to testify on his own behalf.

Jackson's attorneys called some 50 witnesses - including Macaulay Culkin and comedian JAY LENO - in just 15 days.

Comedian Chris Tucker took the stand today as the final defence witness, testifying that during the time he befriended Jackson's young accuser GAVIN ARVIZO, he found the boy to be unusually sophisticated and cunning for a 12-year-old.

He told the courtroom, "He was really smart and he was cunning at times, and his brother... was definitely cunning."

Tucker was put on the stand to help make the defence case that the boy and his family have a history of targeting celebrities and trying to get money from them.

Tucker also testified that he once took Jackson aside and warned him to "watch out" for the boy's mother, Janet, because he had grown suspicious of her.

RUSH HOUR star Tucker said the boy repeatedly asked for gifts but that he forgave the boy's behaviour because he knew he had battled cancer and had family problems.

Tucker met Jackson's accuser at a benefit while the boy was battling cancer in 2000, and testified that he offered the family many gifts until he became suspicious of their motives.

The funnyman accompanied the boy and his family on a trip to Miami, Florida, to see Jackson on the day the controversial trial-triggering documentary LIVING WITH MICHAEL JACKSON aired in 2003.

Prosecutors contend Jackson used the trip to keep the family from seeing the documentary. But Tucker, who chartered the flight, testified that the boy asked to go to Miami to be with Jackson and to get away from media bothering him and his family.

Prosecutors will begin a rebuttal this afternoon, and Jackson's attorneys will then be given an opportunity to respond. Closing arguments probably will not begin before next week (ends03JUN05).

Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges of child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiracy involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

25/05/2005 21:37