SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A judge yesterday set a tentative trial date of Sept. 13 for the abuse charges against singer Michael Jackson and heard arguments on whether to reduce the pop star's bail.
Jackson wasn't in court, and few fans turned out for the hearing.
Jackson's defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., objected to the trial date, saying the prosecution had not given the defense all evidence in the case.
Mesereau said prosecutors have discussed forensic testing, but did not disclose what was being tested or the manner of testing so the defense could decide whether it considers the tests valid.
Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville said he understood the trial date might be changed but wanted to set ''a bull's-eye that we're shooting at here."
In arguing for reduction of Jackson's $3 million bail, Mesereau pointed out his client's charitable contributions, lack of criminal record, and substantial nonmovable assets in Santa Barbara County, including his Neverland Ranch. He said the severity of the charges, coupled with bail precedents for other crimes, suggest that Jackson's bail should be $435,000 at most.
Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen said that bail for a criminal defendant usually is many times greater than his total assets. He pointed out that Jackson is a self-declared billionaire and that his bail amounted to only three-thousandths of his assets.
The prosecution has said in court documents that a large bail amount was necessary to be sure that Jackson does not flee the country. ''Mr. Jackson is known and adored . . . in many of the countries of Europe, the Near East, and Africa," the prosecution said in a motion made available Sunday. ''Several of those countries do not have extradition treaties with the United States."