SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Eight alternate jurors were impaneled Thursday for Michael Jackson's (search) child molestation trial, completing the jury selection process.
Selection of the alternates, which followed Wednesday's swearing-in of 12 regular jurors, sets the stage for opening statements. Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville (search) scheduled the statements to begin Monday.
The alternate panel included one black man. Defense attorneys objected this week when the prosecution rejected two black women from serving.
By midday Wednesday, attorneys and Melville had picked a panel of eight women and four men.
Reports indicated that seven are Caucasian, four are Hispanic and one is Asian. Their ages range from 20 to 79. One man is in a wheelchair.
The court has not disclosed the races of jurors, and lawyers are under a gag order not to discuss the case.
The panel did not appear to include any of the half-dozen black prospective jurors who were in the initial pool.
Two black women who had been questioned as potential jurors were rejected by prosecutors. The defense objected to both dismissals — one Tuesday, the other Wednesday — and Jackson appeared upset when each woman was removed.
The second woman 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 as the woman described her husband's experiences of discrimination and turned to watch her leave the courtroom.
According to one public opinion poll, blacks are less inclined to believe the charges against Jackson.
Some prospective alternate jurors were dismissed for hardship because of job commitments, and several others because of personal experiences that could affect their judgment.
One man excused said he was close friends with one of Jackson's cousins. He also said his children had been to the pop star's Neverland ranch (search) and had watched a movie and eaten ice cream with Jackson.
The 46-year-old singer is accused of molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient, plying him with alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family captive.
Jury selection was slated to last several weeks but took only six working days, interrupted by two week-long breaks, one due to the death of lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.'s (search) sister, the other when 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 juror had been asked during selection if he recognized celebrities listed as potential defense witnesses, including self-help guru Deepak Chopra. He responded, "I think he's a rapper."
Each side was allowed to reject 10 jurors without explanation. The defense cut six Tuesday, and the prosecution five.
The five rejected by prosecutors included a man who said 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 with a friend in law enforcement and the other with a mother who works for the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office.
A woman who said she was related to the pilot of Flight 93, the United Airlines plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, remained in the alternate pool.
During questioning, Mesereau asked prospective jurors about their interests 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 had told the boy to lie.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen (search)'s asked prospective jurors whether they were Jackson fans and whether they had seen a recent FOX News interview by Geraldo Rivera in which Jackson said many of news reports about him are untrue.
The initial phase of jury selection 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.
FOX News' Trace Gallagher, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.