Video: Does Jackson illness matter?

msnbc.com
updated 6/6/2005 2:52:24 PM ET 2005-06-06T18:52:24

Michael Jackson visited a Santa Maria-area hospital again over the weekend, staying for several hours after complaining of severe back pain as the jury in his molestation trial was set to resume deliberations on Monday.

Although the jury was instructed not to pay attention to any media reports surrounding the trial, many analysts are asking what effect his repeated hospital visits could have on the jury.

Monday, MSNBC's Lisa Daniels spoke with Jane Velez-Mitchell of 'Celebrity Justice' about the topic.

An excerpt of the interview follows. To watch the entire clip, click above.

Lisa Daniels: Jane I know you were at the hospital. Can you set the scene for us, describe what you saw?

Jane Velez-Mitchell: Well, it was an ugly scene. Michael Jackson left the hospital last night. His caravan of two SUVs pulled out. ... Somebody didn't think (photographers) moved out of the way fast enough, there were two cameras that were damaged, one I saw fly out of somebody's hand and get smashed to the ground. Authorities confiscated a video camera briefly before somebody invoked the shield law and it was finally handed back to them. It was a very tense scene.

You have to realize, this is a quaint little town, Solvang, modeled after little Copenhagen, it was actually featured in the movie 'Sideways.' People there are not used to this kind of things, tent cities, satellite trucks, media descending on them, and tempers really got out of hand.

Daniels: That's really the sideshow. Let's talk about strategy, because we have to be very clear. The jurors are not obligated to see any coverage. They can't open the newspaper and see the Michael Jackson trial coverage, they can't watch TV, and still, the reality is that sometimes jurors violate those orders and still do.  Will this publicity stunt, or if he's sick, just checking himself into the hospital - whichever way you side on this issue - will this effect deliberations?

Velez-Mitchell: Either way, jurors could hear about this. This is a small farming community. This is where people talk over the white picket fence. Even if they're trying not to hear about it, there's a good chance they might hear about it anyway.

Daniels: Let's assume for a moment it is a publicity stunt, there's no evidence indicating that it is, but take us through the reasoning of the Jackson camp. What are they hoping the jurors will take away from it?

Velez-Mitchell: Well I don't know if he's ill or not, but certainly the timing of Michael Jackson's illnesses has always been questionable. He's done it on key dates of the case. You're talking about the first time, during jury selection. The second time was when his accuser was set to take the stand against him. That was the time he infamously showed up in his pajamas and the boy had to face him with the man wearing PJs, he's sick everybody knows it. ... Now, we're in the most crucial phase of all, we're in jury deliberations. The jury's expected here in a little while, so obviously, the timing is questionable.

Daniels: From the Jackson camp, how does it help? What are they hoping the jurors will take away from it?

Velez-Mitchell: Sympathy. Even though the judge said absolutely clearly (to the jury) that you are not to make this decision with any pity or sympathy - no pity, no prejudice -- people are people, people are human.

Daniels: I've asked you this before -- you've been covering this trial from the very beginning - Jackson does not look well, we've both been right up to his face, he looks sickly, he looks weak. What's your view?

Velez-Mitchell: He's getting sicker and sicker in my opinion. There's a natural sympathy for him. He's lost 20 pounds, his face is absolutely gaunt. Obviously, this is tremendously stressful on him and I was even reading reports that he had a controversial blood machine delivered to Neverland over the weekend. We don't know if that's true or not, but he has been known to use controversial healing methods. He's obviously under a lot of stress.


Before starting her broadcasting career, NBC's Lisa Daniels was an associate with the New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School.

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