And this was Michael Jackson, a pop icon who’s recorded the best-selling album of all time. Accused of one of the most hot-button crimes in America today — child molestation.
The jurors sat through it all — the tears, the outrage, the endless hours of fingerprint testimony, which they blow off as irrelevant — and perhaps more pornography than many may have ever seen.
This afternoon, these North Santa Barbara County residents found Michael Jackson innocent of all charges in the 7th day that they considered his case. It is a crushing blow for district attorney Tom Sneddon who has tried for more than a decade to prosecute Michael Jackson.
If anything stood out, it was the accuser’s mother who seemed to have alienated everyone on the jury. One Hispanic juror disavowed the mother’s portrayal of Hispanics as people who were spit upon. “That’s not our culture” said the juror. “I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us,” said a female juror. “That’s when I thought, ’don't snap your fingers at me, lady.’
As for the porn? No big deal. “Those are adult magazines. Anyone can own them,” said another juror.
In the end, There was no smoking gun, there was no Perry Mason moment in this trial. For the jury, not one piece of evidence stood out said the jurors. They stood back weighed more than 4 months of testimony — and from their comments it seemed to be a straightforward case of reasonable doubt.
And when they looked at Michael Jackson — they looked beyond his self-proclaimed title of King of Pop.
As one juror put it, “One of the first things we decided, that we had to look at him like an individual, not a celebrity, and once we got beyond that, we were able to deal with it as fairly as we could anybody else.”
It was a stunning blow for district attorney Tom Sneddon who has tried for more than decade to prosecute Michael Jackson for child molestation. “You do the right things for the right reasons,” said Sneddon. “If it doesn’t work out, that’s why we have a jury system. But we did the right thing for the right reasons.”
“We try to make a contentious decision as to whether or not we’d have enough evidence to go forward,” he continued, ”and that’s what we did in this case. We’ve done it in every other case since I’ve been the district in this county and we’ll continue to do this as long as I’m district attorney in this county.”
When asked if a child molester had gone free today, Sneddon said simply, “No comment.” Sneddon said the same when asked whether he intended to pursue the case.
Defense attorney Tom Mesereau who inherited this case from Mark Geragos when the Scott Peterson trial took control of Geragos life — said only “Justice is served” on leaving this courthouse where he has scored perhaps his greatest-ever legal victory.
The focus of this trial now shifts 35 miles away — to Neverland Ranch where Michael Jackson has gone and where some fans were sprayed with chemical mace by Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies when they did not back away from the gates soon enough.
Thank you for checking this blog. Those of us who’ve covered this trial since January are already saying sad goodbyes to colleagues who’ve become our family for these many months. Wrapping up this weblog is sad, too, even though we haven’t met. Let’s do lunch!