Published June 14, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The jurors who acquitted Michael Jackson (search) of child molestation had harsh words for the accuser's mother, who made them uncomfortable during her jumbled and volatile testimony.
Jurors said they were especially put off when the mother snapped her fingers at them while on the stand. "I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us. That's when I thought 'Don't snap your fingers at me, lady,' said juror No. 5, a retired widow.
Jurors spoke Monday in a tightly controlled news conference in a spare courtroom outfitted to look more like a TV studio. As a condition of their willingness to participate, they were identified by number, not by name.
Later, several used their names during interviews with the news media, including Juror No. 1, Raymond Hultman, 62. He told The Associated Press in an interview at his home that he believed Jackson may have molested at least two boys — but not the accuser.
He said he voted to acquit Jackson in the current case because he had doubts about the accuser's credibility. "That's not to say he's an innocent man," Hultman said. "He's just not guilty of the crimes he's been charged with."
The foreman, later identified as Paul Rodriguez, said jurors made a plan from the start of deliberations that they were going to treat Jackson like any other individual and avoid being star-struck. After that, "we were able to deal with it just as fairly as we could as with anybody else."
They also found no "smoking gun" in the evidence.
"We expected probably better evidence ... something that was a little more convincing, and it just wasn't there," said juror No. 10.
They also had trouble with the prosecution's timeline of events. Prosecutors said Jackson molested the teenage boy while trying to deal with the fallout from a television documentary that prompted outrage over his sleepovers at Neverland.
"The timeline was really a concern," said juror No. 3, a 50-year-old woman.
Juror No. 10, a 45-year-old woman with one adult child and two teenage sons, discussed the panel's feelings about the 46-year-old pop star sharing his bed with boys.
"What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen? Just freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone. Not so much just Michael Jackson but any person for that matter. That's something that mothers are naturally concerned with," the juror said.
Rodriguez indicated 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."
The mass of about 2,200 credentialed media representatives who gathered for the verdict surprised jurors. But juror No. 1 said, "By the time we got to deliberations, we were all so conditioned to the media, we didn't pay any attention."
The foreman said the jury took only two votes. They divided up tasks and used their copious notes to follow the timeline of events.