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Jackson jury asks judge question

Michael Jackson's jury returned to deliberations in the child molestation case Monday after a weekend that saw the pop star make another trip to the hospital.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jurors in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial ended their first full day of deliberations without reaching a verdict as hundreds of fans and reporters gathered outside the courthouse.

Jackson supporters on Monday held signs declaring “Only love. No crime. He’s innocent. Leave him alone,” “We shall overcome” and “Peter Pan rules.” One woman was spotted with a sign showing Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jackson.

The jury got the case late last week, and deliberations were to resume Tuesday.

Little more than an hour into Monday’s session, jurors told the judge they had a question. The query and its resolution were not publicly disclosed, drawing a protest from news organizations.

Media pool coordinator Peter Shaplen said Judge Rodney S. Melville met with lawyers in his chambers to discuss the question and how it would be answered, but Melville did not plan to reveal to the public any details.

The procedure was considered unusual. Normally, questions from the jury are a public record since they are submitted in writing by the jury foreperson.

An attorney for news organizations including The Associated Press filed motions seeking a transcript of Monday’s closed proceedings, immediate access to any questions from the jury, and to any proceedings concerning those questions.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a damaging TV documentary about the entertainer. If convicted on the molestation counts, Jackson could get several years in prison.

The singer’s fans were outnumbered Monday by an international throng of reporters, photographers and TV crews anticipating any hint of development in the high-profile case.

At one point, Joe Jackson was mobbed by cameras as he arrived at the courthouse, but his son was not present.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, no relation, showed up at the Santa Maria courthouse, and said that Michael Jackson was emotionally strong despite a recurring back problem that sent him to an emergency room over the weekend.

Jackson expects to be acquitted “if the jury uses reasonable doubt,” the reverend said.