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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 22:26 GMT
Jackson trial to start on Monday
Michael Jackson at court in California
Michael Jackson denies all charges
The trial of Michael Jackson on child abuse charges will begin on Monday.

The jury selection procedure was completed on Thursday when eight people were picked as alternates, to deputise for the jury proper.

The pop star's trial will begin with opening statements at 0830 (1630 GMT) on Monday in Santa Maria, California.

Mr Jackson denies molesting a 13-year-old boy, plying him with alcohol, and conspiring to hold him and his family captive.

The trial could last up to six months. If convicted, Mr Jackson, 46, could face a maximum 21 years in prison.

After jury selection was completed, Superior Court Judge Rodney S Melville said there was a real danger of jury misconduct in such a high-profile case.

He warned jurors that they should not talk to anyone about the case, as he did not want them to become part of the media "circus".

Quick process

The jurors - eight women and four men - range in age from 20 to 79.

The racial breakdown was seven whites, four Hispanics and one Asian. There were no African Americans.

They were all asked whether they could fairly judge a person of another race.

They were also asked whether they were familiar with the charges against the pop star. Most said they were, but had not followed the case closely in the media.

The alternates included four men - one of whom was black - and four women.

They will take the place of any jurors who are dismissed or fall ill during the trial.

Jury selection had been expected to last several weeks, but took only five court days.

Friday will now be taken up with legal argument behind closed doors.


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