Published June 06, 2005
SOLVANG, Calif. – The jury in the Michael Jackson (search) child molestation trial completed its first full day of deliberations Monday without reaching a verdict.
Little more than an hour into the day the jurors sent word to the judge that they had a question, but the query and its resolution were not publicly disclosed, drawing a protest from news media.
The eight-woman, four-man panel sent the undisclosed question to Judge Rodney S. Melville (search) at about 9:50 a.m. PDT (12:50 p.m. EDT) and the judge communicated with lawyers about it, said media pool coordinator Peter Shaplen.
Neither the question nor the response was released to reporters. Shaplen said it was the judge's custom to handle such matters in chambers.
Earlier Monday, the jury pool got to court by bus, as usual, about 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT). Jackson doesn't have to be present during deliberations, as long as he is an hour away from the courthouse so he can get there once the verdict is handed down.
Jackson's defense team, which was told to be on 10-minute notice throughout deliberations, showed up to join those waiting at the courthouse Monday.
The jury in the mega star's child molestation trial deliberated for only about two hours Friday afternoon before going home for the weekend. The prosecution and defense rested earlier that day.
Some legal analysts are predicting a long deliberations process because the trial was lengthy and complicated. The jury, ranging in age from 20 to 79, is not sequestered; members picked a foreman on Friday. There is not a single African American on the panel, which consists of eight Caucasians, three Latinos and one Asian.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a then-13-year-old cancer patient in February or March of 2003, serving alcohol to the adolescent and conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive at his Neverland ranch (search). He could get more than 20 years in prison if he's convicted on all 10 counts he faces.
The defendant's father, Joe Jackson, dropped by at midmorning, and was met by a crush of journalists and fans. Accompanied by comedian-turned-nutritionist Dick Gregory, he went inside the courthouse for a few minutes and then left.
Over the weekend, Jackson was treated at an emergency room for what his spokeswoman described as a continuing back problem that flared up again Sunday.
"Mr. Jackson's back has spurred up on him again," said the singer's spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain said soon after the singer arrived. "It's pretty serious. It was serious enough for him to come over here."
The singer, who has complained of back trouble throughout his trial, left the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital (search) late Sunday to the screams of fans. He had arrived nearly six hours earlier.
"He is really in excruciating pain," the Rev. Jesse Jackson, political activist, presidential candidate and spiritual adviser to the singer, told FOX News Monday. The reverend has said he arrived in the area to meet and pray with the pop star daily.
Michael Jackson returned to his Neverland ranch about five miles away to await the verdict with his family.
The apparent medical problem was one of several the singer has faced at key points in his trial. Jury selection was halted in February when he complained of flu-like symptoms, and he said his back problem began on a day when his accuser was on the stand.
The singer said at the time that a fall had forced him to go to the emergency room, and he rushed back to court wearing pajama bottoms when the judge threatened to have him arrested.
Bain said stress contributed to the entertainer's back problem Sunday. "He's under a tremendous amount of stress right now," she said. "Other than his back, he is doing fine."
Some have suggested the frequent health issues are a deliberate stunt by the defense to evoke sympathy for Jackson.
"Some say he wouldn't want to be here for the verdict," said FOX News legal analyst Bob Massi from outside the courthouse Monday morning. "I don't think it's an intended ploy by the defense. I think it's anxiety."
Although Jackson wasn't seen leaving the hospital Sunday, it was believed he departed in one of two sport utility vehicles that drove slowly away from the hospital through a throng of reporters and fans.
His aides had erected white scaffolding outside the emergency room entrance to block the view of photographers gathered outside.
Several people chased after the vehicles in a chaotic scene reminiscent of his court appearances and one photographer was led away by police. Olivia Kennedy, switchboard operator at the hospital, said the staff had been asked not to release any information about Jackson.
The singer "still rests his case on" his innocence, Rev. Jackson told FOX. "He's in the jaws of the jury. He also feels a bit betrayed."
FOX News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans, Trace Gallagher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.