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On The Scene

Dornin: Jackson 'very somber' as verdicts read

Rusty Dornin
On the Scene
Michael Jackson

SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) -- After deliberating for about 32 hours, a California jury on Monday found pop superstar Michael Jackson not guilty of all charges in his child-molestation trial.

CNN correspondent Rusty Dornin was in the courtroom when the verdicts were announced and describes the scene to CNN correspondent Ted Rowlands.

DORNIN: Absolutely incredible ... You could not hear a sound in the courtroom as the judge was ripping open each of the verdict messages, because he had to look at them first before he had the clerk read them. And the only sound in the courtroom you could hear was the tearing of these envelopes.

Meantime, I was sitting just behind the family, behind Katherine and Joe Jackson and Tito, and then in front of them; Latoya, his sister, and Randy, his brother. Now just as the clerk was about to read the verdicts, all the kids reached around. Tito had his arm around his mother. Latoya reached her hand around. They all were touching Katherine Jackson, Michael's mother. She started to break -- as soon as they heard the first not guilty, she broke down and started to cry. They all kept sort of grabbing her and holding her. And from that point on really, there was no other sound in the courtroom other than that clerk reading those not guilty verdicts.

Now, Michael Jackson, you could not see his expression. He appeared very somber. But at the end, he did turn. He hugged his attorney, Robert Sanger. Then of course also hugged Thomas Mesereau. But still appeared very somber, as you could see when he was leaving. He was blowing kisses to the fans and that sort of thing.

But an absolutely incredible moment in the courtroom, and of course for his family and for him for what they have been going through for the past few months.

ROWLANDS: Walking out, the family did not, by any stretch of the imaginations, raise their hands up.


ROWLANDS: There wasn't a sense of jubilation. Was there any of that, any celebration in court?

DORNIN: There were no celebrations. And of course the judge cautioned everyone in the beginning, because the public is in the courtroom as well: "Do not show any signs of either unhappiness or jubilation with those verdicts." And as they were read, the family -- as I said, all they did was they really showed how they felt by touching each other ... although Michael's father, Joe Jackson, kept his hands clasped and stared straight forward through the whole time the verdicts were being read.

As we walked outside of the courtroom, then the other brothers and sisters were there -- Jermaine was there as well as Janet Jackson -- to greet the family as soon as they came out of the courtroom.

ROWLANDS: What about the jurors? Did they make eye contact with Jackson walking in? Or did you see anything from them?

DORNIN: You couldn't -- Jackson was looking directly at the jurors as they walked in. He seemed to be nodding somewhat, thanking them as they left. But the jurors seemed more conscious of acknowledging the alternates that were also there. All the alternates, all eight alternates were also in the courtroom at the time.

But Jackson, as I said, very somber, as he has been through very much of his trial. It's been very difficult to read his emotions. But certainly, after he hugged his attorneys, you could see, there was definitely some relief on his part.

ROWLANDS: What about Tom Sneddon, who had so much invested in this case, the man that decided to go forward, despite the inadequacies, if you will, with this accuser and the accuser's family? Anything from him?

DORNIN: Nothing. When the prosecutors came in, they seemed very upbeat. When they initially came in, they were talking, a lot of smiling, that sort of thing, which contrasted really with when Tom Mesereau walked in with Michael Jackson. The two of them sat there in the courtroom staring straight ahead for maybe 10 or 15 minutes before the judge and the jury came in, whereas the prosecutors had been talking with one another and smiling, that sort of thing.

After the verdict was announced, it was just very grim-faced. They weren't looking at each other, just very grim-faced after hearing, because once you heard those first two counts, it was very clear where this jury was going.

ROWLANDS: Incredible. All right, Rusty Dornin inside the courtroom.

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