SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Jurors took an anonymous poll among themselves early in their deliberations on the charges against Michael Jackson, and it was apparent that most believed the pop star was innocent.
Juror Raymond Hultman said he and two others didn’t initially share that opinion, but the majority eventually convinced the three that the evidence wasn’t strong enough to convict Jackson on the charges they were deciding.
“That’s not to say he’s an innocent man,” Hultman said late Monday in an interview with The Associated Press, standing on the front porch of his Santa Maria home. “He’s just not guilty of the crimes he’s been charged with.”
He said the prosecution presented ample evidence that Jackson had a pattern of inappropriate behavior with boys, but not with the boy who had accused him.
“We had our suspicions, but we couldn’t judge on that because it wasn’t what we were there to do,” Eleanor Cook, a 79-year-old grandmother, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The jurors acquitted Jackson on Monday of four counts of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 2003 and additional counts of providing the boy with wine to facilitate the molestations. He also was acquitted of conspiring with members of his inner circle to hold the accuser and his family captive to get them to rebut a damaging documentary on Jackson’s life.
Hultman said he thought the prosecution’s strongest piece of evidence was a video of the accuser making his first statement to sheriff’s investigators. But he said he was concerned because the accuser had already spoken to two attorneys and a psychologist before going to deputies.
“Things may have been totally different if the (family) hadn’t visited any attorneys first,” Hultman said.
“Everybody has beliefs and I think what was challenging to all of the jurors in this case was to be able to separate our beliefs from what the evidence showed,” Hultman said Tuesday on CBS’ “The Early Show.” “And, in the end, we had to weigh the evidence and if there was any reasonable doubt, that was the decision we needed to make.”
“It was very stressful,” juror Tammy Bolton said on “The Early Show.” “We knew we had thousands of people — millions of people — out there watching us, looking at us, waiting for us to say anything.”
Jurors said they were put off by the accuser’s mother, who tended to stare at them and snapped her fingers at them during her testimony.
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Cook said the mother had perfect hair and makeup when she appeared in a video made by Jackson’s associates to rebut the damaging BBC documentary in which Jackson said he slept in a bed with young boys. But when the woman took the witness stand, Cook said, she appeared disheveled, with no makeup and unkempt hair.
“When she came into court, she looked like Mother Teresa after a bad rain,” she said Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” “She was trying to be pitiful to us, I felt.”
Jury foreman Paul Rodriguez said Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” 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,” Rodriguez said.
Jurors said that as the trial progressed, they began to think of Jackson as a normal person instead of a celebrity. And Rodriguez said Jackson, in his own way, thanked them.
“He looked over at us,” the foreman said on “Good Morning America.” “In fact, I made eye contact with him as the last part of the verdict was read and he kinda just mouthed to us and openly said ‘Thank you.”’
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