The judge in the Michael Jackson trial on Friday set a March 28 hearing to decide whether jurors can hear about past sex offense allegations against the singer in what could be a turning point in an already sensational case.
Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville also dismissed a motion for a mistrial brought by the defense as the trial ended its third week of testimony.
With jurors having a day off, lawyers for both sides conferred with the judge on several other key issues -- the admissibility of the pop superstar's finances and how the fingerprints of Jackson's teen accuser got onto pornographic magazines.
Melville ruled that the prosecution, which has alleged Jackson is on the brink of bankruptcy, could subpoena the entertainer's financial records. But he said they would not be opened in the trial unless he heard testimony that made the details relevant.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a then 13-year-old boy at his Neverland ranch in February or March of 2003, and with plying him with alcohol in order to abuse him. He is also charged with conspiring to commit extortion, false imprisonment and child abduction.
The pop star, who was not in court on Friday, has pleaded innocent. He faces more than 20 years in prison if he is convicted on all 10 counts.
Looming in the background are the well-publicized 1993 accusations of molestation made against Jackson by another 13-year-old, which were settled out of court for a reported $23 million.