- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — Jurors in the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial completed their first full day of deliberations yesterday without reaching a verdict.

Little more than an hour into the day, the jurors sent word to the judge that they had a question, but the query and its resolution were not publicly disclosed, drawing a protest from the press.

Mr. Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a damaging TV documentary about the singer. The jury got the case Friday.

Jackson fans waited outside the courthouse yesterday holding signs saying such things as “Only love. No crime. He’s innocent. Leave him alone,” “We shall overcome” and “Peter Pan rules.” A woman held a sign showing Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mr. Jackson.

Peter Shaplen, who coordinates the pool of journalists, said Judge Rodney S. Melville held a private meeting with attorneys in chambers to discuss the question and how it would be answered.

Mr. Shaplen said the judge did not plan to reveal to the public what the jurors had asked. The procedure is unusual. Questions from the jury normally are a public record because they are submitted in writing by the jury foreman.

An attorney for press organizations, including the Associated Press, filed motions seeking a transcript of yesterday’s closed proceedings, immediate access to any questions from the jury and any proceedings concerning those questions.

Mr. Jackson was treated at hospital emergency room in the town of Solvang for a recurrence of back trouble Sunday. Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said yesterday the singer was feeling fine.

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