In an unlikely development, Universal Studios Hollywood has been ordered by a federal judge to provide “sensational and/or exculpatory information” to help jurors decide whether to convict Michael Jackson of killing his estranged wife, Kathleen, in 1996.
The judge said he would order a preliminary hearing for Jackson and his lawyers in a civil case involving Jackson and former producer James Taylor, whose lawsuit accuses Taylor of orchestrating the death.
Jackson, 68, was charged with first-degree murder and other charges in the May 16, 1996, slaying of his wife and their five children.
Taylor, 68 and his son, Mark Taylor, 35, were charged with conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter.
Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The case is one of the most sensational in U.S. history.
Jackson and Taylor had a tumultuous relationship.
The couple had a brief romance before Jackson left Taylor’s home in the Florida Keys in 1997 to pursue a solo career.
Taylor left the country in 2003 and later filed for bankruptcy.
Jackson filed for divorce in January.
After the couple split, Taylor said he was “deeply sorry” for the “pain” they had caused the Jackson family and vowed never to work with Jackson again.
“The loss of Michael is felt throughout the entire Jackson family,” Jackson’s lawyer, Paul Singer, said in a statement.
“There is no other way to express it.
We are saddened by this news, but also proud of the extraordinary legacy Michael has left us.
He leaves behind a legacy of love, laughter, and the power of friendship.”
The ruling by U.N. District Judge Barbara B. Mikulski is expected to be final on Wednesday, two days after Jackson is expected return to court in Manhattan for a hearing to determine whether he will face the death penalty.
In her order Wednesday, Mikulsk said that the federal government had not provided the court with information about the nature of the government’s request.
She said she would seek further information from the government.
The government has been asking for the information to determine if Jackson was acting under a “conspiracy” to kill Kathleen, a woman whose death caused Jackson to become an international sensation.
In a separate ruling last week, Mikolski denied the government request for a preliminary injunction barring Jackson from speaking publicly about the case, saying he had not been ordered to provide it.
The Justice Department said in court papers that it had not filed any “suspicions that a pretrial conference would result in an imminent and substantial threat of imminent death to the defendant or others.”
A jury will be selected in the case later this month, with an expected verdict expected by early February.