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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Jackson jury could reduce charge
Michael Jackson arrives at court in Santa Maria, California, 1 June 2005
Jurors were warned against "pity or prejudice" towards the singer
The jury in Michael Jackson's child abuse trial has been given permission to reduce one of his charges if they feel unable to reach a guilty verdict.

Judge Rodney Melville gave the jury instructions on how to go about reaching a verdict on Wednesday.

He said they could decide Mr Jackson gave teenager Gavin Arvizo alcohol but did not abuse him, a lesser charge with a penalty of up to a year in prison.

Mr Jackson denies 10 charges, including child abuse and conspiracy to kidnap.

'Pity or prejudice'

If found guilty of all the charges, the 46-year-old pop star could face up to two decades in prison.

Judge Melville told the eight women and four men they must try to discern the truth from the testimony given by 130 witnesses.

The prosecution and the defence will give their closing arguments on Thursday and the jurors could start their deliberations on Friday.

Judge Rodney Melville said the jurors should reach a decision based on facts and the law, without "pity or prejudice toward" the singer.

"You have heard all of the evidence and you will hear the arguments of attorneys," Judge Melville said as the three-month trial neared its end.

Jurors were told to consider previous allegations of child abuse by Mr Jackson only if they showed a potential pattern of molestation.

Closing statements

The jury's first task will be to nominate someone to represent the group. They could start deliberations the same day, or they could wait until next week.

Jurors will be expected to work behind closed doors for about six hours a day until they either reach verdicts or announce a deadlock.

Thursday's closing arguments will be a final chance for the prosecution and defence to influence the jury.

The BBC's Daniel Lak in Santa Maria says the prosecution is expected to argue that Mr Jackson had a history of coercing young boys into inappropriate behaviour.

The defence, meanwhile, is predicted to paint the accuser's family as lacking credibility and motivated by money.

Both sides have been given four hours each to make their closing arguments.


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