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The Michael Jackson Trial

Jury selection delayed a week in Jackson case

Pop star's lead attorney suffered death in family

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A death in the family of Michael Jackson's lead attorney delays jury selection in the child molestation trial.
Michael Jackson

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Jury selection in Michael Jackson's trial on child molestation charges will be cut short Monday after the pop star's lead attorney suffered a death in the family, defense sources said.

The sister of defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr., Marigeane Leone Kachurka, died Saturday morning of lung cancer at age 53, another member of Jackson's defense team said.

Neither Jackson nor Mesereau will be in the courtroom in Santa Maria, California, when proceedings resume Monday, his defense team said.

Jackson issued public condolences to his attorney from his family Sunday.

"Tom, you and your entire family will be in our prayers. May God grant you all much comfort and peace," Jackson said in a statement on his Web site.

The process of voir dire, in which prospective jurors are questioned at length by prosecutors and defense attorneys, had been scheduled for Monday.

Instead, about 250 jurors who were told to come in to court will be sent home after being assigned numbers, and questioning is now scheduled to begin February 14, court officials said.

No hearings will take place for the rest of the week, a media pool coordinator said.

Jackson, 46, was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of child molestation, four counts of administering an intoxicating agent, one count of attempted child molestation and one count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and he released a statement last week saying he would be "acquitted and vindicated."

Jury selection started last Monday, with 300 potential jurors questioned in two groups. Tuesday's morning session delivered another group of 150.

Nearly 750 prospective panelists had been ordered to report to the courthouse.

But Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville canceled Tuesday's afternoon session, saying enough potential jurors have been selected.

Melville said court would be dark the rest of last week to give attorneys for both sides time to read the seven-page questionnaires members of the jury pool were asked to complete.

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