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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jury in Jackson case a diverse group

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Tim Molloy Associated Press

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The jurors deciding Michael Jackson’s fate include eight parents, a man who visited the singer’s Neverland ranch, and a woman whose grandson has been convicted of a sex crime.

The panel, whittled down from a pool of 250 prospective jurors, has a retired computer programmer, a horse trainer and a student. Six said they are fans of Jackson’s music. The man who said he has been to Jackson’s ranch is a 21-year-old who uses a wheelchair and visited with a cerebral palsy group.

The eight men and four women now sit in judgment of a man who could hardly be less like them – a world-traveling entertainer for most of his life who lives on a sprawling estate that has its own amusement park.

For three months, the jurors listened silently to testimony and were barred from discussing the case until they received it Friday. Their deliberations resume today. When attorneys on both sides interviewed prospective panelists in February, they listened for anything that might hint at what possible jurors might ultimately decide about Jackson. The 46-year-old singer is charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003. Jackson is also accused of plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive.

During jury selection, prosecutors sought parents, especially those with young children. Legal analysts say such parents are particularly offended by allegations of child molestation.

Defense attorneys asked potential panelists about their interest in the arts, trying to find people who might have grown up with Jackson’s music and be able to relate to him.

All the jurors have now seen Jackson’s property via videotape and been shown detailed layouts of his bedroom, where the molestations are alleged to have occurred.

They all have at least one thing in common. During the selection process, they said they would be willing to look at graphic sexual material. It turned out the lawyers were referring to dozens of adult magazines seized from Jackson’s home.

The jurors range in age from 20 to 79. The oldest is a woman whose grandson is a sex offender.