Grand jurors selected to hear Michael Jackson evidence
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Nineteen grand jurors who will hear the case against pop star Michael Jackson have been chosen, CNN has learned.
The jurors were selected by midday Thursday from a large pool of potential jurors summoned for criminal grand jury service in Santa Barbara County, sources said, and will hear the prosecution's case against the pop star.
Potential jurors began reporting to Santa Barbara County Superior Court's Jury Assembly Building Thursday morning.
"No comment," said District Attorney Tom Sneddon, when asked by CNN to confirm the jury had been selected.
Jackson, 45, has been charged with seven felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent."
Prosecutors say the incidents took place in February and March 2003, when Jackson's accuser was 12.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty.
The Santa Barbara County district attorney's office will present its case against the pop star at an undisclosed location. The presentation is scheduled to begin Monday and is expected to take about two weeks.
Prosecutors are seeking a grand jury indictment against Jackson. A grand jury indictment would mean prosecutors would not have to present evidence at a preliminary hearing to determine if the case should go to trial.
Sources have told CNN that Jackson has been invited to appear before the panel to offer his side of the story. Defendants rarely accept such offers, however.
The material that prosecutors will present to the grand jury has not been disclosed. Asked if details from a 1993 case against Jackson could be included, defense attorney Ben Brafman said, "Because of the court-imposed gag order, it would not be appropriate for me to respond.
"We do intend, however, to respond to this issue and many others when we appear before Judge (Rodney) Melville on Friday, April 2nd, at the next status hearing."
Earlier this week, an attorney representing news organizations called on a judge to vacate or modify his order banning journalists from photographing or speaking to prospective grand jurors.
CNN is among the news organizations that have sought access.