Well ahead of schedule, a jury was selected today (Feb. 23) to decide Michael Jackson’s fate on charges that he molested a teenage boy at his Neverland Ranch. “We have a jury,” Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville announced.
The panel consists of four men and eight women, ranging in age from 20 to 79. The racial and ethnic breakdown appeared to be: seven whites, four Hispanics and one Asian. After the jury was sworn in, attorneys moved on to the selection of eight alternate jurors.
Jury selection had been expected to last several weeks, but took only five court days, which were interrupted by a one-week break due to the death of an attorney’s sister and another one-week break because Jackson was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.
Selection moved at a fast pace when the judge imposed tight time limits on how long each prospective juror could be questioned.
Among the jurors were a woman who said her grandson was required to register as a sexual offender because of a crime; a woman who said she was related to the pilot of one of the planes that went down on Sept. 11, 2001; a 20-year-old man who likes “The Simpsons” TV show; and a man who is interested in Western art and country music.
One of the jurors had been asked during selection if he recognized celebrity witnesses in the case including self-help guru Deepak Chopra. He responded, “I think he’s a rapper.”
The 46-year-old Jackson is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy, plying him with alcohol, and conspiring to hold him and his family captive.
Jackson took a moment after jury selection convened yesterday to discuss the latest in a series of elaborate outfits he has worn to court, which often include cravats, armbands and emblems.
He briefly answered a reporter’s questions about a chain of sparkling ornaments draped over a gold vest he wore under his black coat. But he was at a loss when asked to identify a deer-like animal on the coat’s emblem. “My wardrobe guy puts it together,” he said.
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