Jackson case still under scrutiny

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES _ Prosecutors today denied a report that the Michael Jackson child sex investigation has concluded and no molestation charges will be filed against the entertainer.

Los Angeles and Santa Barbara county authorities began the probe last August after a then-13-year-old boy said Jackson, 35, lavished him with gifts and trips in a pattern of seduction that led to sex.

The syndicated TV news magazine "Hard Copy," which has closely followed the investigation and broken many developments in the case, announced today that the criminal investigation is over and no charges will be filed.

Prosecutors will issue a "DA's reject" in large part because of the lack of cooperation from the teen-ager whose allegations led to the criminal investigation, "Hard Copy" will say in tonight's broadcast.

But prosecutors are taking a cautionary step and decided to keep the Jackson case open for the remainder of the six-year statute of limitations, said "Hard Copy," attributing the information to police sources.

"It is completely unfounded. We still have some things to do and we are continuing the pace," said Los Angeles County deputy district attorney William Hodgman.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon Jr.'s office also dismissed the report, saying, "There is nothing new to report from here."

Jackson employees, his mother, and such friends and Miko Brando have appeared before grand juries in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.

"Prosecutors were very disappointed that not one of Jackson's inner circle offered up enough evidence to lead to an indictment," said "Hard Copy" senior correspondent Diane Dimond.

After making the molestation allegations, the teen-ager filed a Superior Court civil suit that graphically detailed alleged intimate encounters with Jackson. The suit was later settled out of court for a reported $15 million.

LOS ANGELES _ A carload of men sprayed gunfire in two drive-by shootings, seriously injuring four people including an actor in the movie "South Central," authorities said today.

The shootings were within minutes of each other late Sunday in the seaside community of Venice. There were no arrests as of early today. The occupants of a car first fired at two people inside another vehicle, then a few minutes later opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at two people standing in front of a music store a half-mile away, said police Lt. Otis Dobine.

One of those shot outside the store was identified as actor Byron Keith Minns, who was in critical condition today at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Dobine said. He was wounded in the arm and abdomen, Dobine said.

Minns, 23, played the criminal friend of an embattled street-gang veteran who tries to spare his young son from gang life in the 1992 movie "South Central." The film was produced by Oliver Stone.

Dobine said he doubted the attackers knew that Minns, who was shot just after he stepped out of the store, was an actor.

The other man wounded outside the music store also was in critical condition at Harbor-UCLA, while the two people hit in the car were in serious condition, Dobine said.

A witness said he was leaving the music store when a wounded man staggered toward him.

"He was shot in the head. If it had been 10 minutes earlier, it could have been me," said Scott Taylor, a vacationing Englishman.

The shootings occurred near a section of Venice where a turf war between black and Hispanic gangs has led to more than a dozen deaths since September. Dobine said none of the victims Sunday was known to be affiliated with gangs.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. _ Ella Fitzgerald had both legs amputated below the knee because of complications with her diabetes, her spokeswoman said Monday.

"She's in really good shape and good spirits," spokeswoman Mary Jane Outwater said.

Fitzgerald underwent the amputations last year, but the operations were not disclosed at the time. Asked why there was no announcement at the time, she said, "I really can't tell you. All I can tell you is that was done."

Fitzgerald, the "first lady of song," turns 76 on April 25. She is known for her improvisational "scat" vocals, and has recorded more than 250 albums.

LOS ANGELES _ It's a boy for supermodel Kim Alexis, the pregnant cover girl on the spring issue of Shape magazine.

The 8-pound, 13-ounce boy, named Noah Fernand, was born Saturday at an Orange County hospital, publicist Michelle Bega said Monday.

"Mother and baby are doing splendidly. She's delighted," Bega said.

Alexis, who has two sons from a previous marriage, is married to former National Hockey League star Ron Duguay. He has two daughters from a previous marriage.

OMAHA, Neb. _ Is the on-again, off-again relationship between Debra Winger and Sen. Bob Kerrey back on again?

No, says Ms. Winger, even though he accompanied her to the Academy Awards last month, and she served as host for his political fund-raiser Sunday.

"Bob's one of my best friends," she said. "I don't have many of them."

Whatever their relationship, Ms. Winger says she still supports Kerrey, who is running for re-election.

"He's still one of the good guys and it's important that we keep the good guys in," she said. "Besides, he has no private life anyway, he may as well be in government."

GULFPORT, Miss. _ Vince Gill spent the day watching golf. Many of the spectators spent the day watching Vince Gill.

The Grammy-winning country music star was in the gallery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic on Sunday to support golfer Bob Wolcott, a longtime friend.

But he spent plenty of time talking to fans and signing autographs on things like admission tickets and golf balls.

Wolcott shot a 2-under-par 70 Sunday, good enough for a share of fifth place and $7,546 in prize money.

"We've been friends for a long time," said Gill, whose albums include "I Still Believe In You" and "Pocket of Gold." "He's an old golfing buddy. I'm a 2 handicap myself." Read Next Article