SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Michael Jackson’s lawyers want the singer’s child molestation case dismissed, arguing that prosecutors have overstepped their bounds by abusing search warrants and unnecessarily raiding Jackson’s Neverland Ranch this month.
More than 100 search warrants have been executed in the case, defense attorneys said in a motion released Wednesday and scheduled for argument in hearings to begin Monday. The motion asks the court to dismiss the case or delay the Jan. 31 trial date.
The defense contends the unusual raids Dec. 3-4 at Jackson’s Santa Barbara County estate were “clearly designed to shock and intimidate the defendant, his family and staff.”
The search warrant was issued Nov. 24 but authorities waited more than a week in an effort to disrupt defense preparations on the last business day before a court deadline, according to the defense motion.
It also says Jackson has been singled out because he is a celebrity. “No other person in the history of Santa Barbara has been treated this way,” attorney Robert Sanger said in the filing.
Jackson’s attorneys said information gathered in the raids could have been requested through the court, noting “saliva is typically obtained” that way.
Authorities have not revealed what they were looking for during the latest searches but a source close to the case told The Associated Press that Jackson voluntarily gave a DNA sample.
The 46-year-old entertainer has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to his alleged victim.
Lawyers in the case are prohibited from speaking about it under the judge’s strict gag order.