SANTA MARIA, California — Michael Jackson was found not guilty, but that doesn't mean the jury thinks he's completely innocent.
As the 12 jurors and 8 alternate jurors explained in a press conference following their verdict Monday (see "Michael Jackson Not Guilty On All Charges"), they tried to base their decision not on how they felt, but on the legal instructions given to them and the evidence before them — which they thought just wasn't enough to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. (Tell us what you think about the Jackson verdict).
"This was not a slam-dunk deal," said juror number one, a 62-year-old civil engineer. "You're hoping to find a smoking gun, or something that you can grab onto that points absolutely in one direction or the other. It was difficult finding that, so, by the law, you can only find one thing."
The jurors hadn't expected to come to a decision on Monday, but having the weekend helped them to put their thoughts together, they said. They had started deliberations by discussing the conspiracy charge, and ended deliberations on the same topic — unanimously deciding that the timeline did not make sense to them. They also decided there just weren't enough credible witnesses all around.
When asked who was believable, they cited phone company representatives and two former Neverland employees (former house manager Jesus Salas and former housekeeper Kiki Fournier, who both testified about seeing drunk children in Jackson's presence) — but not any of the star witnesses (see "Jay Leno, Chris Tucker Take The Stand In Jackson Case"), nor the accuser and his family. In fact, the mother of the accuser did herself a disservice by trying to connect with the jurors. They said it was a turn-off that she looked at them directly and made gestures toward them.
"I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us," said juror number five, a 79-year-old widowed grandmother. "That's when I thought, 'Don't snap your fingers at me, lady!' "
|Check out video reports looking back at the trial, Jackson's career and his public image.|
"What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen? To freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone, not just Michael Jackson, but anyone?" asked juror number 10, a 45-year-old mother of three.
"As a mother, the values that she taught them, it's hard for me to comprehend," said juror number eight, a 42-year-old special-education aide. "I wouldn't want my children to lie. It's hard."
Divided over how much they could believe the accuser and his mother, jurors considered the defense argument that this was all a big con on the part of the mother, but they didn't go so far as to agree with Thomas Mesereau's depiction of the family as "con artists, liars and actors." "The thought was there," said juror number 10, "but things just didn't add up."
No one piece of evidence, no one witness swayed them in one direction or another, they said. Jackson's superstar status was also not a factor, they said, since they considered him as they would anyone else accused of the same crimes. Juror number eight said she felt he was more "human" and "real" to her now, saying that Jackson was "the kind of guy who you could walk to and just say 'Hey, what's up?' to."
It only took two votes, they said, to reach their decision. While they're happy to go home and be done with the case that's consumed their lives for the past few months (they called it being Jackson-ed out), they also feel bad for all those involved.
"The whole situation is sad," an alternate juror said.
"It's a no-win situation for the [accuser's family] or for Michael Jackson," juror number eight said. "But we had to do what we were instructed to do. It's over, and now we can go on with our lives."
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."