General News

Michael Jackson Verdict In: Not Guilty

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Jun 14, 2005 | 4:34am EDT

Michael Jackson has been acquitted of all 10 counts relating to his child molestation trial.

The pop superstar, 46, walked away from the courthouse in Santa Barbara, California a free man after four months of daily court visits as he fought charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy at his Neverland Ranch home and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

Jackson was arrested on Nov. 20 following a raid on his Neverland Ranch home and has pleaded innocent throughout the trial.

The King of Pop was given 90 minutes to make his way to the courthouse from his nearby Neverland Ranch, Santa Barbara home after it was announced jurors, who have been deliberating since June 3, had arrived at a verdict. The verdict was delivered via a live audio feed by Santa Barbara County Court Clerk Lorna Fry just after 2:00 p.m. PST.

Wearing a dark suit, black tie and blue sunglasses, Jackson was joined by his parents and siblings Jermaine, Janet and LaToya when he arrived at the courthouse. His entourage were rushed into the court showing little emotion.

Jackson's mother Katharine burst into tears when the first verdict was announced and the Jackson clan held hands and hugged each other. Jackson dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief as the verdict was read out, with Fry stating "not guilty" to every charge. The pop superstar waved and blew kisses to fans as he left court with his family and entourage.

The trial officially began on Jan. 31 when Jackson faced prospective jurors in court. Back then, Superior Court judge Rodney Melville informed the prospective panelists they might have to serve for about six months.

The trial began proper on Feb. 28 following jury selection, after two delays--Jackson's attorney Thomas Mesereau stalled proceedings in early February to attend his sister's funeral and Jackson himself held up the trial in mid-February as he spent four days recovering from influenza.

Jackson sparked controversy in March when he arrived at court wearing pajamas after he was threatened with an arrest warrant by Judge Melville when he failed to turn up to court on time. The pop superstar had made an early morning stop at hospital after suffering back pains.

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Over the course of the trial, jurors listened to testimony from Jackson's accuser, his brother, sister and mother and others who have accused the singer of child molestation in the past as well as the pop star's ex- wife Debbie Rowe and celebrities such as Macaulay Culkin, Jay Leno and George Lopez as defense and prosecuting attorneys battled in court. Jackson never took the stand.

The singer made his four month-long court visits a family affair--his parents Joe and Katharine were constantly by his side, while brothers Jermaine, Tito and Randy were regular visitors and sisters LaToya and Janet were occasional companions.

The June 13 verdict came as a surprise to many--jurors had expected to spend the day re-listening to taped testimony from his teenager accuser and re-reading his court testimony. More than 2,000 journalists from 32 countries around the world covered the verdict live from outside the courthouse.

Meanwhile, jubilant Jackson fans littered the streets of Santa Maria, California with confetti as they celebrated the pop star's acquittal of child molestation charges.

Several hundred fans who had spent months outside of the courthouse during the trial whooped and waved banners and flags as they hugged and celebrated with each other in the streets.

Some had ditched jobs and flown from nations as far a field as Japan and Germany to lend Jackson their support.

But the 46-year-old singer opted not to join the celebrations when he left the courthouse minutes after the verdict was read out.

A grim-faced Jackson walked out of the courtroom with his family Members--including mother Katharine, father Joe, brother Jermaine and sisters LaToya and Janet in tow--and immediately entered a waiting vehicle, only blowing kisses to his fans.

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