Tuesday, June 14, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — The jurors in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial yesterday said they treated the pop superstar as they would any defendant, but several noted their distaste for the accuser’s mother.

The jurors, eight women and four men identified only by their numbers, remained guarded about details of their 30 hours of deliberations over seven days during a televised press conference after the verdict.

But they said they were irritated by the testimony of the accuser’s mother, who at one point snapped her fingers at them.

“I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us,” said one juror, adding that she thought to herself, “Don’t snap your fingers at me, lady.”

Another juror indicated that he felt the mother singled him out because he was a fellow Hispanic.

“The mother, when she looked at me and snapped her fingers a few times and she says, ‘You know how our culture is,’ and winks at me, I thought, ‘No, that’s not the way our culture is.’ ”

A third juror, a woman who has children, wondered how a mother could let a child sleep with an adult.

“Every moment of your day, you’re protective over what happens to your children,” the woman said.

“What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen? Or just freely volunteer your child, you know, to sleep with someone? And not just so much Michael Jackson, but any person, for that matter,” she said.

The jurors ranged in age from 20 to 79, and the panel included seven whites, four Hispanics and one Asian, who lists Indonesian as her native language. Eight of the panelists are parents.

The jurors, who were never sequestered during the trial, said they carefully looked at the evidence before reaching their unanimous decision.

“We looked at Michael Jackson. And one of the first things we decided, that we had to look at him as just like any other individual. Not just as a celebrity,” said the jury foreman. “And once we got that established, that we could go beyond that, we were able to deal with it just as fairly as we could with anybody else.”

One male juror said prosecutors had failed to convince them.

“In a case like this, you are waiting for a smoking gun, something you can grab onto,” he said. “In this case, we had trouble finding that.”

A female juror said: “We expected better evidence; it just wasn’t there.”

Earlier, the 12 panelists released a statement saying, “We confidently came to our verdict.”

The panel also pleaded with the army of more than 1,400 journalists covering the case to respect their privacy amid a media feeding frenzy over the case of the world-famous defendant.

Judge Rodney Melville gave the panel final instructions and said they could now speak to other people, including the press, about the case as the gag order that has cast a shadow of secrecy over the case for a year and a half fell away.

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