June 14, 2005 — For the 12 men and women who found Michael Jackson not guilty on all charges in his child molestation case, the key issue seemed to be the credibility of the accuser's mother.
From her personal appearance to her aggressive attitude, several jurors said they simply did not like the accuser's mother and did not find her credible. That, in turn, called into question the testimony of her son and other family members, six jurors told ABC's "Good Morning America" today.
"I don't think the mother inflicted good values in her kids and that made me have a hard time believing anybody in the family," said juror Tammy Bolton.
The panel of eight women and four men acquitted Jackson of 10 counts of molestation, attempted molestation, plying minors with liquor and conspiracy. Jurors deliberated for slightly more than 24 hours over seven days before announcing their unanimous decision.
Jackson, 46, was accused of molesting the now-15-year-old boy, who spent time at his Neverland ranch and appeared with him in the 2003 British documentary "Living With Michael Jackson."
Jackson's defense cast doubt on the credibility of the accuser and his family, particularly his mother. The mother testified about Jackson's alleged conspiracy to hold her and her family hostage so they could make a rebuttal video. Court observers described her behavior and testimony as sometimes bizarre, often erratic, rambling and combative.
Juror Ellie Cook, a 79-year-old retiree, said the mother waved a finger in her face and frequently snapped at the jury. "You don't snap your fingers at a jury," Cook said. "You snap your fingers to get a dog to mind you."
Another juror, Melissa Herard, a 42-year-old mother of four, said of the accuser's mother, "She was right in our faces. It was very intimidating."
Various defense witnesses portrayed the mother as a welfare cheat who exploited her son's illness to contact celebrities and live lavishly off Jackson. A welfare worker testified that the mother did not reveal that her family had received a six-figure J.C. Penney settlement before she filled out an application for public assistance.
The mother's own testimony did little to help her image, according to jurors.
"A lot of the parts of her testimony, I just wanted to break out laughing, but I couldn't," Herard said. "She was just up and down, up and down."
Some jurors said they were even turned off by the woman's appearance. Cook said that when jurors were shown photos of the woman she looked attractive, made up and well put together. But when the woman appeared in court, she wore no makeup and looked "drained."
"She looked like Mother Teresa after a bad rain," Cook said. "She was trying to be pitiful to us, I felt."
None of the six jurors who appeared on "Good Morning America" said they had any second thoughts about the verdict.
When asked if they believed that Michael Jackson may have molested other children, however, three jurors said they suspected that could be true. The jury heard testimony from a number of sources about Jackson's alleged molestation or inappropriate behavior with other children.
But the jurors said they closely followed the judge's instructions, considering only the evidence presented in this case.
The jury foreman, Paul Rodriguez, said past allegations came up frequently in the jury room, and while he said it is "possible" Jackson could have molested other children, "we couldn't weigh that with this case in particular."
After spending four months together, the jurors said they developed close relationships with one another. They also said they also stopped seeing Jackson as a celebrity and started seeing him as a regular person.
Herard said she watched the Jackson team closely throughout the trial. "I came to realize he's a person, he's a human being," she said.