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The Michael Jackson Trial

Jackson jury selection completed

Opening statements in trial of pop star set for Monday


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Michael Jackson
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SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) -- Jury selection has been completed in Michael Jackson's trial on child-molestation charges, clearing the way for opening statements to begin Monday, the presiding judge announced Thursday.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville urged jurors not to become part of the "circus" surrounding the proceedings. He warned that if any juror is accused of misconduct, "I have eight more jurors to choose from."

Melville also announced that he will release the 2,000-page transcript of grand jury proceedings against the pop star once the jury is seated.

With the jury selection process complete, opening statements are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday (11:30 a.m. ET)

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient, giving the boy alcohol and attempting to hold him and his family captive. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Melville agreed to reserve six seats in the courtroom for Jackson's family during the trial, which is expected to last five months and include graphic testimony. Prospective jurors were asked during jury selection whether they would be uncomfortable viewing explicit material related to the allegations.

Lawyers finished selecting the four-man, eight-woman jury Wednesday. The oldest juror is a 79-year-old woman; the youngest, a 20-year-old man. Another eight alternate jurors -- four men and four women, ranging from 19 to 81 -- were chosen Thursday afternoon. (More on the main jurors)

One of the alternates, a 52-year-old woman, said she had a friend who worked for Jackson but did not specify in what capacity. Another, a 36-year-old UPS driver, said he had made deliveries to Jackson's Neverland ranch and had taken his children to events there at least once.

The oldest, a widow, has served on two juries in drunken driving cases, both of which resulted in convictions.

The youngest, a self-described "delivery boy," is the only African-American among the total panel of 20. Less than 2 percent of the population of Santa Barbara County is African-American.

Jury selection began January 31, with hundreds of prospective jurors called to the Santa Barbara County courthouse for questioning.

The process was interrupted for two weeks after the death of the sister of Jackson's lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., and when Jackson became ill and was hospitalized for the flu.

CNN's Miguel Marquez and Dree DeClamecy contributed to this report.


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