Jackson not guilty
13:30 14 June 2005
Michael Jackson was sensationally cleared of all charges at his child abuse trial yesterday (13.06.05).
The eccentric star dabbed tears from his eyes as the jury made the announcement after 31 hours of deliberation.
The jury found him not guilty on all 10 charges including abusing teenage cancer victim Gavin Arvizo at his Neverland Ranch.
The boy, now 15, and his family had accused Jackson of molesting him while the pair shared a bed together.
The jury - made up of eight women and four men - chose instead to believe Jackson's lawyers who claimed the star's relationship with young boys was "innocent" and non-sexual.
Judge Rodney Melville said just a few words to the star as the four-month trial came to a close, telling him: "Mr Jackson, your bail is exonerated and you are released."
Dedicated fans, who have supported Jackson throughout the court case, gathered outside the Santa Maria courtroom and cheered as they heard the verdicts dramatically announced one by one.
One woman fan released a white dove, which soared into the air, every time a 'not guilty' judgement was read out.
Despite being a free man, Jackson, whose health has visibly deteriorated throughout the trial, looked stunned and gaunt as he left the court.
The star didn't stop to speak to the waiting crowd but held up his hand and blew a kiss at fans before being ushered quickly to a waiting car.
Over 300 fans followed Jackson to Neverland where they sang victory songs outside the gates.
Michael's father, Joe Jackson, said his son didn't celebrate his victory last night but went to bed exhausted.
Joe added: "As far as we are concerned, justice has been served," while Jackson's lawyer Tom Mesereau said outside the courtroom: "Justice is done. The man's innocent, he always was."
Although free, Jackson is said to be in a cash crisis. During the court case it was revealed he was over 150millionGBP in debt. The star is also reportedly selling Neverland to cover spiralling legal costs and may be forced to sell his Beatles catalogue worth millions.
Jackson could also face his teenage accuser again in the civil courts where the burden of proof is much lower. Gavin has five years to take Jackson to court, before his 20th birthday.
But for the time being, Jackson is celebrating his innocence on his website. The site, MJJsource.com, set up to provide information during his trial, opens with a victory song and the words "Innocent" alongside an image of a hand flashing the "V" for victory sign.
The site then shows a series of historical events which occurred on June 13th - the date of Jackson's acquittal - including the birth of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela from his apartheid prison.
A statement reads: "Remember this date, for it is a part of HIStory."
(c) BANG Media International