SANTA MARIA, Calif. – A jury for the Michael Jackson (search) child molestation case has been chosen ahead of schedule — and there isn't a single black participant on the panel of 12.
Attorneys and the judge had picked the 12 jurors by midday Wednesday. The eight alternates still hadn't been finalized, though that could happen as early as Thursday morning.
"We have a jury," Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville (search) announced.
The primary panel consists of eight women and four men, and none of them is black. Early reports indicated that seven are Caucasian, four are Hispanic and one is Asian. The ages range from 20 to 79. One man is in a wheelchair.
There were two African-American prospects in the narrowed-down pool of candidates who were ultimately dismissed, FOX News has learned. One reportedly had both been molested as a child and had been accused of molesting children; the other spoke at length about how it was impossible for blacks to get a fair trial in Santa Barbara County.
One of the prospects claimed her husband had been treated with prejudice while working for the sheriff's department. During questioning by a prosecutor, she criticized the makeup of the jury pool.
"Just look around us. A jury of his peers would be people of his age and people of color, mixed diversity," she said. "How diverse is this jury looking to you right now?"
Jackson nodded along as the woman described her husband's experiences of discrimination and turned to watch her leave the courtroom.
One of those excused said he was close friends with one of Jackson's cousins and also said his children had been to the pop star's Neverland ranch and had watched a movie and had ice cream with Jackson.
The 46-year-old singer is accused of molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient at his Neverland Ranch (search), plying him with alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family captive.
The jury selection process was much shorter than expected in spite of interruptions in the form of two separate weeklong delays.
Jury selection was slated 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.
Lawyers sailed through the selection process when the judge imposed tight time limits on how long each prospective juror could be questioned.
Among the jurors chosen was a woman who said her grandson was required to register as a sexual offender because of a crime; 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."
Both sides were allowed to reject 10 jurors each without explanation. The defense cut six Tuesday and the prosecution five.
The five jurors rejected by prosecutors included a man who said during questioning that he was a "karaoke junkie" and Jackson fan and a woman who once did a cheerleading routine to one of Jackson's songs.
Among the jurors dismissed by the defense were a man who has several sheriff's deputies as friends, and two mothers of young children. One has a friend in law enforcement and another's mother works for the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office.
A woman who said she was related to the pilot of Flight 93, one of the planes that went down on Sept. 11, 2001, remained in the alternate pool.
During questioning, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. (search) asked prospects about their interest in the arts, their feelings toward Jackson and whether they believed child witnesses could be led to lie. The defense will argue that the mother of Jackson's accuser has told him to lie.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen (search)'s questions included whether prospects were fans of Jackson and whether they had seen a recent FOX News interview with Geraldo Rivera in which Jackson said many of the news reports about him are untrue.
Jury selection was delayed twice — first by the death of lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.'s sister two weeks ago and then by Jackson's highly publicized trip to the hospital last week with "flu-like" symptoms.
Melville welcomed back jurors Tuesday by assuring them the delays were real and not delaying tactics by the defense. "Mr. Jackson really was sick. He really did have the flu. I talked to his doctor," Melville said. "I wouldn't let anyone take advantage of us that way."
The initial phase of seating a jury began Jan. 31 with the judge questioning hundreds of prospects about whether they had any hardships that would prevent them from serving on the projected six-month trial. By the next day a pool of 243 prospects had been formed for individual questioning by lawyers.
Jackson — a pop music icon who catapulted to fame in the 1980s with hits such as "Thriller," "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" and started the "Moonwalk" dance trend — took a moment after jury selection convened Tuesday 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. Said Jackson: "My wardrobe guy puts it together."
FOX News' Trace Gallagher, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.