Guest: Alex Mar, Joey Gastelo, Brian Oxman, Geoffrey Fieger, Daniel Horowitz, Charles Luke
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, a clean sweep, Michael Jackson not guilty, on all counts, back home at Neverland, a free man tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Fourteen weeks of testimony, some 135 witnesses, more than 30 hours of deliberation by 12 jurors over seven days. They find him not guilty of conspiracy, not guilty of molesting a child and not guilty of giving alcohol to a minor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We expected probably better evidence, you know, something that was a little more convincing. And it just wasn‘t there.
ABRAMS: We hear from the jurors and the prosecution, from Jackson‘s family.
A special edition of the program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi, everyone.
It was, in the end, a stunning verdict. A Santa Maria jury finds Michael Jackson not guilty on each and every charge he faced, no compromises, no hung jury, it seems no second thoughts. A jury of eight women and four men found there was just not enough evidence to put Jackson behind bars.
Leaving after the verdict, he seemed to be a shell of the man who danced on the SUV at the outset of this case. So, here now a look back at how it happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: “We, the jury, in the above entitled case find the defendant not guilty of conspiracy, as charged in count one of the indictment. Not guilty of a lewd act upon a minor child, not guilty of administering an intoxicating agent to assist in the commission of a felony.
TOM SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Obviously, we‘re disappointed in the verdict, but we work every day in a system of justice. We believe in the system of justice. And I have been a prosecutor for 37 years. And, in 37 years, I‘ve never quarreled with a jury‘s verdict. And I‘m not going to start today.
QUESTION: You mentioned the celebrity factor. Do you think that played a key part?
SNEDDON: Well, it seems to us, but maybe we‘re just looking for explanations in the wrong places. I don‘t know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen, or, you know, just freely volunteer your child, you know, to sleep with someone, and not just so much Michael Jackson, but any person, for that matter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We looked at all the evidence. We looked at Michael Jackson. And the first—one of the first things that we decided, that we had to look at him as just like any other individual, not just as a celebrity. And once we got that established, that we could go beyond that, we were able to deal with it just as fairly as we could with anybody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually challenged one another in the deliberation room. It wasn‘t—I don‘t want to give the impression this was a slam dunk deal where you go into a room and 12 people agree. I don‘t think 12 people can agree on anything except that the sun might come up tomorrow morning. And beyond that, you got have to talk about it. And we did talk about it. We challenged the issues, and we came to the decision that pointed to reasonable doubt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: We‘re joined now on the phone by one of the alternate jurors in the case. Charles Luke was known as alternate juror 103.
Mr. Luke, thanks very much for taking the time to come on the program.
We appreciate it.
CHARLES LUKE, ALTERNATE JUROR NUMBER THREE: Hello.
All right. So, let me ask you the first and most obvious question. If you had been one of the deliberating jurors, would you have come up with the same verdict?
LUKE: I would think so. I think that, when the trial ended and we went on our way, that we had real confidence in that group of 12, that they would come up with the right decision. They‘re a very sincere group and had worked hard on it for several months, and had all the testimony and evidence in front of them. And I‘m sure they worked hard on it.
So, I can support their decision, for sure.
ABRAMS: Even apart from supporting it—and I think that anybody who appreciates the jury system is going to say, look, this is the verdict and it is what it is. But now, asking you on your own to evaluate it, would you—the minute you left, when you were said—when the judge said, thank you, we‘re going to let you know if we need you, did you walk away from there thinking you would find Michael Jackson not guilty on all the charges?
I walked away realizing that I needed deliberation. And while I had some leanings, it was really a decision to be made all 12. And I needed to review a lot of the testimony, because, you know, we heard so much in that period of time that you had to put it all together. You had to connect the dots and then you had to identify some of the truth that hadn‘t been coming through.
ABRAMS: So—so, it was a close case for you?
LUKE: Yes. It‘s tough to get to a verdict of—without reasonable doubt.
And so you think that was the...
LUKE: So, your gut might feel...
ABRAMS: You think that was the issue, was the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt?
LUKE: I think that‘s a big issue in it, yes.
ABRAMS: Let me let you listen to a couple of pieces of sound from some of the jurors who you got to know well. And a lot of them were talking about the mother of the accuser in this case. And I listened to them, and I‘m thinking, boy, the minute this woman got off the stand, this prosecutor was finished.
Let‘s listen and then I want to ask you about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can‘t really point to any one specific item right now. It‘s—I mean, there were tons of evidence to consider, and to pick one item out is really difficult.
And I would just say that we considered all of the evidence. And, of course, since it‘s a criminal trial, it had to be beyond a reasonable doubt. And in looking at all of the evidence, and not just one specific item, I mean, that‘s the conclusion we arrived at. And I think we really worked hard and were very careful in making that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: OK. Well, that was not the piece of sound that I was looking for. But let me—let me ask you this.
Let me read you this from juror number one, when he spoke out, said something that I thought was real interesting. “Michael Jackson probably has molested boys. I cannot believe that, after some of the testimony that was offered, I can‘t believe that this man could sleep in the same bedroom for 365 straight days and not do something more than watch television and eat popcorn. That doesn‘t make sense to me. But that doesn‘t make him guilty of the charges that were presented in this case. And that‘s where we had to make our decision.”
Do you agree with that?
LUKE: Well, I think, you know, there‘s a pretty strong body of evidence on both sides of this decision. But, again, not having been in the deliberation room with them, you know, I would not second-guess the conclusion that they came to.
ABRAMS: Right. But, look, I‘m not asking you to second-guess.
I mean, for example, I think that they put together a very strong case with regard to the other allegations of molestation, but a weaker case with regard to this boy and this family. And I think that‘s sort of what juror number one is saying. He‘s saying, Michael Jackson probably has molested boys. Do you—did—did that—did you come to that conclusion at the end of the case?
LUKE: Well, first of all, I don‘t recall number one saying that.
ABRAMS: He said it to the Associated Press, not in the press conference.
LUKE: Is that right?
ABRAMS: He said it afterwards, yes.
LUKE: Well, Dan, I wouldn‘t want to comment on that.
LUKE: You know, I heard Ray (ph) say that he had some feelings going into it and he still got some feelings coming out.
Now, what does that mean in detail? I don‘t know. Maybe it means what you said. But, you know, there is a strong bit of facts connected with a verdict going the other way. But, you know, I think Tom Mesereau did a very strong job of building doubt and calling the family a pack of liars.
ABRAMS: Yes. Yes.
LUKE: And, you know, there were lies going on.
LUKE: Some of them were innocent, but, obviously, some weren‘t.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you about that.
Let me just play the piece of sound I was looking for before. And this is a number of the jurors talking about the mother of the accuser in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I might be speaking maybe for myself and a few others, jurors, that, you know, what mother in her right mind would allow that to happen, or, you know, just freely volunteer your child, you know, to sleep with someone? And not just so much Michael Jackson, but any person, for that matter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us. That is when I thought, don‘t snap your fingers at me, lady.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was—I was very uncomfortable with that. A lot of the witnesses looked over at us from time to time, but then they would look back. But she didn‘t take her eyes off of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Boy, Mr. Luke, it sure sounds like the jurors really detested the mother of the accuser in this case.
LUKE: Well, Dan, I know that you were in the courtroom quite a bit.
I don‘t know if you saw her.
But, you know, that‘s a woman who has been through 17 years or so of physical abuse. She‘s been through a lot. And, you know, a mother with a 12-year-old boy understands that, you know, he really needs a man in his life. And it appears that there‘s been three or four of them who have become very close to Michael Jackson and all of that same kind, where they do not have a father in the house.
But that, again, does not prove guilt.
LUKE: Janet is an unusual person in some respects. She‘s struggling to—to, I think, do the best thing for her family. But she comes across as a different person in the courtroom.
ABRAMS: Final question. Let me just ask you this. Am I reading you wrong if I say that, when you left to go on your own and the jurors went to deliberate, that you were more inclined to find him guilty of something than this verdict showed?
LUKE: I would rather not say how I was leaning, but I definitely could not have made a decision.
I needed to review testimony and I really needed to have some discussions with people about—about the lies and which ones were meaningful and which ones weren‘t, because there were some going on, on both sides.
LUKE: And you had to make some judgments on some of these witnesses.
ABRAMS: Charles Luke, I know it must have been frustrating to be an alternate juror and not get to actually deliberate the case. But thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program. Appreciate it.
LUKE: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: NBC‘s Mike Taibbi was in the courtroom when the verdict was read.
All right, Mike, it sounds to me like Mr. Luke might have been someone who might have gone a different way on the jury, but who knows. You were inside the courtroom watching those jurors as the verdict was delivered. At least one of them was crying, right?
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was very emotional in court.
And I think what you heard in Mr. Luke‘s voice is the internal debate so many people had, so many reasonable people in, in this case, people who are knowledgeable about this case, about which way to lean. And what you really heard was a distinction between—the semantic distinction between the words not guilty and the word innocent.
A lot of people in Jackson‘s camp are going to be saying this proves he‘s innocent. Well, in the minds of many people, even people on this jury, it‘s quite clear they don‘t believe that at all. And Mr. Luke seemed be wrestling with that, even as he was answering your questions.
And I have to tell you—and you know this, too, Dan, because you‘ve been sitting with people, too, who have been involved in the coverage of the case—that very informed people who have thought very hard about all this evidence have found it difficult to side on one side without conceding that the other side has validity.
There are two polar opposite points of view about the facts not in dispute in this case.
TAIBBI: As one juror said, the one who was quoted by the Associated Press, I think he‘s a child molester. I think he‘s done it in the past, but it didn‘t meet the standard of beyond reasonable doubt in this case.
TAIBBI: And that, to me, is the beauty of our system, Dan.
You‘re a lawyer. You know. I studied law and I know—I know it, too. This is a system of laws and not of men.
TAIBBI: That‘s pre-political correctness. But, you know, the people, the human beings who watch this case, think, there has got to be something wrong with this guy. But if you follow the law, you have to say, in this case, it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
ABRAMS: All right. And I‘m going to talk about more of that at the end of the case. Mike is going to stick around. Talk to him a little bit more about inside the courtroom.
ABRAMS: Also coming up, an attorney who has represented Michael Jackson‘s family for (AUDIO GAP) an intricate part of this defense team. Brian Oxman joins us in a moment to talk about his reaction (AUDIO GAP) the family to the verdict.
ABRAMS: We continue our live coverage of the fallout from the verdict in the Michael Jackson case, not guilty, not guilty, not guilty; 10 times, we heard it, not guilty of the conspiracy, not guilty of committing a lewd act upon a child, not guilty of the alcohol charge, a clean sweep for Michael Jackson and his team.
And I‘m joined now by a man who was part of the defense team until about a month ago. And he‘s been working with the Jackson family for many years.
Brian Oxman joins us now.
Brian, thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.
First, let me just ask you straight up, were you surprised, meaning, were you getting nervous near the end, as many were, that Jackson might actually get convicted?
BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: This was probably the most nerve-wracking and emotionally-trying experience that I can remember for my entire life.
We all saw how it affected Michael Jackson. It caused him to lose a lot of weight, lose sleep, be unable to eat. And I shared that with him. And, each morning, I would talk to him. And it affected me, too. I was concerned. And you cannot take a prosecution like this lightly. You have to take it very seriously. This was all-out war. And you see that the conclusion of this is that one side won and the other lost.
ABRAMS: Was the point where you and your team started getting a bit nervous when all of the other allegations came out, the other boys who testified about molestation, the witnesses who said that they saw Michael Jackson acting inappropriately? Was it at that point that you were most concerned about the possibility of a conviction?
OXMAN: The most striking evidence in the entire trial was the 1108 evidence, which is the prior acts.
And people have questioned whether or not that kind of evidence is constitutional, whether or not that kind of evidence is fair, because you are going back years and years and saying that an act which took place 15 years ago established that an act took place here today. No question about it, it was the most powerful evidence on the part of the prosecution.
But equally, no question about it, that each one of those people who came forward and made those claims either were severely discredited or were shown really not to have known what was doing—happening, because they were young and they were inexperienced and they couldn‘t tell us really what happened. But it was, without...
OXMAN: ... question, powerful.
ABRAMS: But here‘s what—here‘s—here‘s what juror—here‘s what juror number one had to say about that. I mean, he doesn‘t view it the same way that you do.
He said: “Michael Jackson probably has molested boys. I cannot believe that, after some of the testimony that was offered, I can‘t believe that this man could sleep in the same bedroom for 365 straight days and not do something more than watch television and eat popcorn. That doesn‘t make sense to me. But that doesn‘t make him guilty of the charges that were presented in this case. And that‘s where we had to make our decision.”
Do you disagree with that juror? It‘s a very powerful statement from that juror. But I think you have to look to the source; you have to look to the people who were involved here. That‘s—the sleeping with Michael statement came from Brett Barnes, who said, nothing happened. There was absolutely no impropriety. Macaulay Culkin said the same thing. Wade Robson said the same thing.
The only people who made these claims were others who never slept with Michael Jackson.
ABRAMS: Yes, but there was one boy...
OXMAN: It just strikes me that there was something fundamentally wrong.
ABRAMS: But you know, Brian, there was one witness, who is now a youth pastor, who really many viewed as sort of unassailable. The cross-examination was limited. He said that Michael Jackson molested him as a child. He was very reluctant to testify, said he hadn‘t talked to anyone about it.
And there he was on the witness stand. Most people believed he was pretty credible.
OXMAN: Dan, I think you can only say it was so long ago, it was such ancient history to bring up these kinds of things that no one believed this young man when he made the allegation 15 years ago. No one believed him today.
So, the bottom line of this is, allegations can be made. But when they are just not believable, we shouldn‘t crucify anyone, particularly Michael Jackson. It‘s all water under the bridge. It‘s all ancient history.
ABRAMS: Speak of ancient history and water under the bridge, let me let you listen to this piece of sound from the district attorney, Tom Sneddon, at a press conference today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNEDDON: My past history with Mr. Jackson had absolutely, unequivocally nothing to do with our evaluation of this particular case. That‘s been a nice little 30-second sound bite that the media has used to try to justify this thing. But it never had anything to do with either the sheriff‘s investigation or our decision to file.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: He‘s mad at the media. Jackson‘s team is mad at the media.
The media is treating everyone unfairly.
But, Brian, do you believe Tom Sneddon when he says that?
OXMAN: I do.
This was one of the most powerful prosecutions which I have ever been associated with. It involved 200,000 documents, over 1,000 computer images, police reports that would fill file cabinet after file cabinet. No stone was unturned in this case. And the bottom line of it is, the jury said no.
ABRAMS: Well, Brian, I think you deserve credit for saying that, because I happen to I agree with you. I don‘t think that Tom Sneddon pursued this prosecution just out of some vendetta. I think he believed in this boy and mother, maybe foolishly, but that I think he did believe in them.
All right, Brian is going to stay with us.
Joining me now, we‘ve got a great panel here, criminal defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger; MSNBC legal analyst, former prosecutor Susan Filan; criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz.
And thank you all for coming on the program.
ABRAMS: All right, Geoffrey Fieger, look, you have—you have been critical of this defense on and off throughout this case. First of all, I haven‘t heard from you yet. Are you surprised?
GEOFFREY FIEGER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, not entirely surprised.
But I think you are absolutely right. That juror alternate that you spoke to earlier, Dan, would have convicted. The group dynamic in a jury is far different what the individuals might say. And I think you have also played as a sound bite the exact reason why he was acquitted. Remember, he‘s not found innocent. He‘s acquitted, yes, no proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
No one in their right mind would let Michael Jackson sleep with their son. And that‘s a powerful force for women in that jury. That jury blames that mother. And that‘s a powerful force resulting in this verdict. And I think that‘s what happened. It‘s not that he doesn‘t engage in this activity. His defense wasn‘t, I don‘t sleep with boys. His defense wasn‘t, I‘m heterosexual. His defense wasn‘t, I don‘t like little boys.
His defense was, they are all liars. And there was problems with those proofs.
ABRAMS: Daniel Horowitz, you agree?
DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, to an extent, I agree, Dan.
I think that we hit the gore point when you had that alternate juror saying, I—essentially saying, I had a bad feeling about Michael Jackson, but I don‘t really want to say what I would have wanted to do. I think they all started like that. But—and I disagree a little bit with Geoffrey on this.
I think this was an intelligent jury. And I think Mesereau deliberately picked intelligent jurors. And they were able to say, let‘s not vote right away on our gut. Let‘s analyze. And by the time they were through analyzing, they just didn‘t have enough hard-core, corroborated facts to go beyond a reasonable doubt and say guilty.
ABRAMS: Susan, look, I think that many people here at the courthouse, by the end of this case, were surprised that this was the verdict, that there was a clean-sweep victory for the defense. Do you think it was all about mama?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC ANALYST: No, I don‘t think it was all about mama.
I think, though, that the analogy, the apple doesn‘t fall far from the tree might apply here a little bit. But I think, bottom line for this jury, they didn‘t say that he‘s innocent. They say there was not enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And I have to give them an awful lot of credit, because there was so much evidence before them, that they could have convicted Michael Jackson.
But they said that they studied these judge‘s instructions very, very carefully and they applied the standard. And I believe they deliberated in good conscience and in good faith. I don‘t think they treated him as a celebrity. I don‘t think they were influenced by the media. I think they properly the very confusing standard having to do with the 1108, or the prior bad acts evidence.
I think they did their job and I think they are to be commended. If they didn‘t think there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt, even if they thought it‘s probable or possible that he did it, then he had to have been acquitted. So, I‘m happy today. Our system works.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right.
Let me take a quick break here. Everyone is going to stick around.
When we come back, we‘re going to hear from two of Michael Jackson‘s brothers about their reaction to the verdict. They were with him in the moments after he found out. Jermaine and Tito Jackson, we‘ll hear from them.
ABRAMS: The jurors who determined Michael Jackson‘s fate, and we‘ll hear from his brothers, Tito and Jermaine Jackson, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A case like this, you are hoping that maybe you can find a smoking gun or something that you can grab on to that says absolutely one way or another. And, in this case, we had difficulty in finding that. So, by the law, you can only rule in one direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And this is exactly what these jurors did. They ruled in one direction, and that was not guilty of all of the charges that Michael Jackson was facing.
Now, earlier tonight, we heard for the first time from members of Jackson‘s family. MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby got an exclusive right off the bat here at MSNBC with Michael Jackson‘s brothers Jermaine and Tito about their reaction to the verdict today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERMAINE JACKSON, BROTHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: I was very, very happy,
because we always felt from the very beginning my brother was 1000 percent
innocent. That‘s what we—that‘s what we always knew. And that‘s what -
· the jury did a great job. They did the right thing. And we‘re very happy. The family is rejoicing. And Michael‘s resting. And we‘re all very happy, Rita, very happy..
I would like to really, really thank the supporters from around the world, the fans and the people who love my brother, who love the family, who has always supported us, because, like I said from the very beginning, he‘s been 1000 percent innocent. And that showed today. But it was a long, long struggle and a tough road.
But being a family and staying together, we can overcome anything, and that‘s what we‘ve proved. So—but thank you and thank you everyone who really believed in us. And we know that the ones who didn‘t and who said this and that, but that‘s not what it‘s about. We thank God. We thank the people who have been there and who know who we really are.
I would like to say the jury has been wonderful. And there are wonderful people in this county. It‘s just the people who are in authority weren‘t so nice. And you know who I‘m speaking of.
But the taxpayers up here and the people are just a wonderful community. But, at the same time, the people who are put in power, those were the ones who weren‘t so nice and who concocted this whole thing from the very beginning. But justice was served. My brother is 1000 percent innocent. I am the most happiest person.
TITO JACKSON, BROTHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Oh, it‘s a beautiful day today. Like Jermaine was saying, it‘s a beautiful day. And we‘re just glad all of this is behind us, that we can go on with our lives and Michael can go on with his life and do what he does best. And that‘s making good music, making his fans happy, people happy all over the world. And that‘s what it‘s about.
T. JACKSON: Right now, we‘re just trying to absorb everything. Like I said, Michael is resting and enjoying his family, his children, and just taking it easy today. Today is a day to rejoice and to just take in everything and have fun, enjoy it, party, have fun, just enjoy your life. He has his life back, and he can do his thing.
Some people are probably scratching their heads and saying, How did that happen? That‘s because some of the media didn‘t give the public the full story. They didn‘t give them the true cross- examination. And that happens at times. But now Michael is free. He went through the justice system. And like Jermaine was saying, it‘s a beautiful county out here. And now Tom Sneddon, he can retire and do whatever he needs to do. He had his day in court, and that‘s about that. And leave Michael Jackson—leave him alone.
Oh, Michael Jackson is Michael Jackson. And no matter if he sold 40 million records off of one record and sold 15 of his last or whatever the counts may be, Michael Jackson will be Michael Jackson. And you can‘t take that away from him. And who knows what the future is for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Everyone is blaming the media. That was Rita Cosby‘s exclusive interview with Jermaine and Tito Jackson earlier tonight.
Of course, we should tell you that we put those sound bites together. Rita was asking a lot of very good questions. We just ended up bumping everything together. So, Rita wasn‘t just sitting there. She was asking great questions and getting a great interview.
So, do we go into the panel now? Yes. All right.
So, let‘s go back to our panel to figure out whether the Jackson family has the right to declare victory in a way here.
Daniel Horowitz, is it fair for them to declare victory and say, in essence, that all of this never should have happened, Michael Jackson never should have been charged?
HOROWITZ: I think it is fair, Dan.
If you look at the way this trial took place, everything was loaded against the defense. I mean, this 1108 prior acts evidence came in without even Jordy Chandler testifying. He never took the stand and yet his payoff was presented against Michael Jackson. How do you rebut that?
The youth minister came in with allegations, again, so many years ago.
How could Michael defend against that?
ABRAMS: All right.
HOROWITZ: And yet, he still won.
ABRAMS: Daniel, hang on for one sec. Daniel, hang on one second.
I‘m sorry to interrupt you.
ABRAMS: We‘ve got Joey Gastelo on the phone. He was alternate juror number seven.
I know we have been having trouble with your phone line. Thank you for giving us a call back. We appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you straight out, before we lose you again. Bottom line, do you agree with the verdict that the jurors who deliberated came up with?
JOSEPH GASTELO, ALTERNATE JUROR NUMBER SEVEN: I agree 100 percent with my jury, because, when I left on that Friday, I made up my mind that, whatever they came up with, I would stick 100 percent behind. And that‘s what I did.
ABRAMS: Would you have convicted him even on, for example, the alcohol charges? If you had been deliberating, would you have believed that he was guilty of, for example, the alcohol charges or any of the other charges?
GASTELO: No, because, you know, you know what? I can‘t really say, other than, as far as my opinion right now, no. He shouldn‘t be charged with those, or he should have got acquitted with that. But if I would have seen the evidence, maybe I could have made a better—a better decision.
ABRAMS: You saw all the evidence, didn‘t you? You sat through the whole case.
GASTELO: I‘m talking reviewing the evidence, like as far as being a juror.
ABRAMS: Was it frustrating to not be able to actually go back there and deliberate with the fellow jurors?
GASTELO: Very frustrating, yes.
ABRAMS: Well, what was—what was the, do you think, the strongest evidence that the prosecution had going for? Was there anything that really made you say, gosh, they do have something here?
ABRAMS: See, that‘s why I wanted to talk to him really quickly, because we knew we were going to lose him again.
Joey Gastelo, though, thanks a lot for continually trying to call in. Well, we have got a bad phone line with him, but nice of him to keep trying.
All right, Daniel Horowitz, I was—you were finishing up a thought about these jurors.
I got to tell you.
Let me go to Susan here real quick.
Susan, it sounds like to me like a number of these alternate jurors were not as confident in the not-guilty verdict, because this is a man, Gastelo, who apparently has said earlier today that he might have convicted on the alcohol charges. Then we have the jury earlier who I spoke to, the alternate, who also seemed to be sort of saying, well, you know, I might have convicted, etcetera. Is it just luck that the defense got the 12 that they got?
Or is it that dynamic in the jury room, that, when they get together, even the people who might have some questions start to come around one way or the other?
FILAN: It‘s the latter, Dan.
This was a close case. And I will never forget the tension waiting for this verdict to be announced, because, at that moment, it seemed that it could go either way, that there might be a conviction of at least the molestation charge or an alcohol charge. I don‘t think anybody really anticipated a conviction on the conspiracy charge.
But what happened, I think, in that deliberation room is the people that thought that there was enough evidence to think that maybe they could convict listened to the other jurors. And when they teased apart the basic, basic thing in this case, which it all turned on, which was credibility, they just said to themselves, we just can‘t—we just cannot believe enough that these accusers and their family were telling the truth.
There were too many reasons to impeach them.
FILAN: So, what they said, there‘s reasonable doubt. Yes, I think he probably did something wrong, but that‘s not the correct standard of proof.
FILAN: I mean, in a way, they got it right, if that‘s how they—if that‘s how they felt. So, no, I don‘t think it‘s luck at all that you got the jurors that you got.
ABRAMS: Let me take a quick break here.
We‘re rocking and rolling. We got alternate jurors calling in. We got them falling out. We got a lot more coming up.
This is our live coverage of the aftermath of the not-guilty verdict for Michael Jackson on all of the charges. We‘ve got a lot more. I‘m not even sure exactly what we got, but we have got a lot of phone calls coming in. We‘ve got phone calls going out. Our continuing coverage in a moment.
ABRAMS: Coming up, we head to Neverland, where Michael Jackson may be celebrating. But, even if he‘s not, he‘s certainly relieved tonight—coming up.
ABRAMS: Continuing with our live coverage of the aftermath of the not-guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson case.
Let‘s head right to Neverland, Michael Jackson‘s home, his ranch.
NBC‘s Mark Mullen is there.
So, Mark, are they celebrating, playing loud music, etcetera? What‘s going on there?
MARK MULLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You know how private they are. We don‘t know. But I suspect none of the above.
At least, Joe Jackson came out a little while ago and said that Michael Jackson was already in bed, taking it easy, absolutely exhausted after this—this period of time. There are probably, I don‘t know, Dan, maybe two, three dozen people here. Most of the people left because a security guard came out a short time ago and said, we appreciate that you guys are here. Maybe we‘ll do something for you in a couple of days, but, basically, go home. A lot of people hoping that, at least, Michael Jackson would come out and say that.
ABRAMS: Get out of here.
At least they are being nice, though, because they are in a celebratory mood. Dan, check this out. They were all hoping that Michael Jackson would at least have something to say. They didn‘t get it from Michael Jackson directly. But if anyone goes to Michael Jackson‘s Web site, it‘s pretty interesting.
Dan, listen to this. There‘s sort of a video presentation on Michael Jackson‘s Web site, which lists, in the Web site‘s opinion, the most important days in history. It lists today, Michael Jackson‘s acquittal, as number one. It puts that in the same company as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the prison release of Nelson Mandela and, also, Dan, the Berlin Wall falling.
ABRAMS: Yes. Yes. It‘s funny, because those were the—those are the exact same—same comparisons that I was going to make, yes.
ABRAMS: Anyway, Mark, Mark Mullen, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
MULLEN: Sorry, Dan. Yes.
ABRAMS: Come on.
Brian Oxman, give me a break. Come on. Is that really—I mean, I guess that‘s not Jackson‘s family putting that out, is it?
OXMAN: That is the MJJ Source Web site, of which I am a integral part. I have a column which I write on that Web site. I don‘t think that...
ABRAMS: Were you the one behind making the comparison to Nelson Mandela and the Berlin Wall falling and all those other comp—come on, Brian.
OXMAN: No, that‘s not compatriots doing that.
I don‘t think we should engage in hyperbole. I don‘t think we should make those kinds of comparisons. I think that this is an important day in Michael Jackson‘s life.
OXMAN: He hugged his mother. He hugged his father. He gave all his brothers and sisters a kiss. And he saw his children, who are the most important thing in the world to him.
And it was the most important day in Michael Jackson‘s life. He was praying to the lord.
ABRAMS: All right.
OXMAN: And he is just eternally grateful to the people of Santa Maria. And he‘s not the kind who will make some kind of hyperbole or nonsense. He‘s quietly grateful.
ABRAMS: Well, it‘s quietly this time. I remember. I was at his Neverland Ranch. I saw you there, Brian, right after he was arrested. He held quite a celebration to celebrate his arrest and what he expected to be his ultimate vindication.
We‘ll talk about that more in a minute. Let me take a quick break here. When we come back, Michael Jackson‘s future. I mean, is he done as an entertainer? Coming up.
ABRAMS: OK, so Michael Jackson not guilty. So, what happens now?
Alex Mar is online news editor for “Rolling Stone” magazine.
Does he have any hope, any future in the music industry?
ALEX MAR, ONLINE NEWS EDITOR, “ROLLING STONE”: Well, Dan, what we need to keep in mind is, regardless of today‘s verdict, Michael Jackson‘s reputation has actually been in decline for pretty much a decade at this point.
The initial allegation of child molestation back in ‘93 was really the turning point for him. I think that‘s the moment at which the media frenzy began. It became OK to seriously attack Jackson in the press, well beyond any sort of well-worn jokes about Bubbles the chimp and the elephant man and all of that.
Then, you have to look at the fact that, commercially, he has actually
· looking back at “Thriller,” that was back in 1982. He‘s never quite matched that success, incredible as that sounds. That‘s more than two decades ago. That album went 26 times platinum. “Invincible,” which came out four years ago, that went two times platinum. For him, that‘s peanuts. On another level...
ABRAMS: So, what does he do? Does—does he go to Vegas? Does he go to Atlantic City or Something?
MAR: Well, I think, you know, there‘s the potential on the one hand for him to try to use the media to his advantage at this point.
He could try and parlay all of this attention into, let‘s say, some sort of TV comeback special. The question becomes then, what network would want to touch that? Because there is a great difference, of course, between airing an expose on Jackson and actually getting behind a man who was recently charged with child molestation.
On the other hand, though, I think a smart move for him would be to take a comeback tour to Europe and even more so to Asia to select cities, see how that plays out,because I think his international audience has actually remained relatively strong compared to in the states.
ABRAMS: All right.
Alex Mar, I wanted to spend more time with you. I‘m sorry. We ran out of time with the jurors.
But we—you know, we also have to keep in mind, Michael Jackson is 47 now. He‘s not in his 20s either. He can‘t quite dance like he used to as well.
ABRAMS: All right, Alex, thanks a lot much for coming on the program.
MAR: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Appreciate it.
Susan Filan, Daniel Horowitz, Brian Oxman, appreciate it, and all the other guests.
Take a quick break. My final thoughts on this case in a moment.
ABRAMS: My final thought on the Jackson case.
The question everyone will now ask in connection with it is: Was not guilty the right verdict? My answer, yes. There was not enough evidence to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson molested this boy and that Jackson served him alcohol with the intent to molest him. The conspiracy charge is based primarily on the testimony of the boy‘s mother, whose credibility left a lot to be desired.
Does that mean Jackson has been vindicated, as his supporters claim, that he‘s just a gentle, terrific guy, misunderstood and targeted? No. He spent far too many nights in bed with boys alone to believe that. He‘s paid too many millions of dollars to settle claims to accept that. The stories are too consistent. The boys look too similar. And his bedroom was filled with the sort of smut a milk-and-cookies-loving, Peter Pan-like figure would either ignore or abhor.
I thought the jurors might dislike Jackson enough to convict him. But that‘s not the law. It doesn‘t mean that the result is the moral one, but that wasn‘t the question jurors were asked to answer. This was a court of law. And, in that specific forum, with its unique rules, I think the jurors probably got it right.
That does it for us tonight. Be sure to check out our 6:00 p.m.
Eastern show every night here on MSNBC. That‘s Eastern time, of course.
Up next, “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN.” Thanks for watching.
What a day it has been. I‘ll see you tomorrow morning on “The Today Show.”
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