Day six. After 281/2 hours of deliberation -- minus breaks -- the jury in the Michael Jackson child molestation case has not reached a verdict. Of course, most sentient beings on the planet already know that. We're all just waiting. We, meaning, the world.
Or at least that's what it feels like outside in the breezy sunshine at the Spanish-style Santa Barbara County courthouse complex here in the strawberry capital of California. Hundreds of journalists. Dozens of satellite trucks. From 30 countries. Drinking caffeinated beverages. Interviewing each other. Making elaborate dinner plans.
Getting twitchy, people.
A young woman was arrested Friday for spray-painting an image of Michael Jackson with angel's wings on the sidewalk near the courthouse, where a few hundred fans gathered to shout that Jackson is innocent and to taunt and perform for the media. Since court proceedings got underway in January, there have been seven arrests and 650 citations issued (mostly for jaywalking and the nefarious crime of horn honking).
Santa Maria Police Chief Dan Macagni reported Friday that his officers had confiscated rocks from the fans -- rocks that had been colored with messages in fingernail polish. What did the messages say? "You don't use rocks to send fan mail," the chief said, and chuckled. He wouldn't dish. He did joke that ducking might not be a bad idea.
Rumor of the day: Jackson spokeswoman Raymone Bain had been fired.
Not true, she told the media pool.
News of the day: The boy-man dubbed "Super Fan" by CNN in a puff piece Thursday was served with a temporary restraining order. He is one B.J. Hickman, 18, a high school student from Knoxville, who has been ordered to stay away from one Diane Dimond, the on-the-scene doyenne of Court TV.
In her petition for the order to stop harassment, Dimond wrote that Hickman has come to the courthouse and heckled her. "He continuously yells, I'm going down, I'm going to hell fire, I'm a demon, I'm a liar, I'm a whore . . . a she-devil and, most disturbingly -- a racist."
Indeed, Hickman is quite the well-known screamer. Asked, on the request for the restraining order, who had witnessed the verbal assaults, Dimond wrote, "The entire press corps covering the Michael Jackson trial." She added that her employer had to hire three armed security guards to protect her. Dimond asked that Hickman be kept 500 yards away; the court ordered that he stay 20 yards distant.
Like Jesse Jackson and Dick Gregory before him, Hickman took the opportunity to host his own news conference Friday morning (a very well-attended news conference, given the vacuum), where he denied the charges.
He had his own spokeswoman (who patted his back) and a lawyer, too. Super Fan read a statement. "I've not harmed her in any way," he said. His attorney, Gerardo Camacho, said he thought it ironic that Dimond accused Hickman of trying to curb her First Amendment right of free speech.
The jury begins its work each morning at 8:30 and leaves for home at 2:30 p.m. (Though it did break early Thursday so some jurors could attend high school graduation ceremonies.)
As the eight women and four men enter and exit the courthouse, reporters gather to see what they're wearing.
The thinking is that they'll be dressed in their Sunday best on the day of the verdict, when they'll be invited to appear at a post-trial news conference. Some speculate that lengthy deliberations are good for the prosecution, unless they're good for the defense. Nobody, of course, knows. The jury has been mostly silent; jurors have sent only one question to Judge Rodney S. Melville, and it was said to be of an administrative nature. Juries that are deadlocked over verdicts traditionally send multiple messages to the judge asking for help.
Deliberations are scheduled to resume Monday.
If we can wait that long.
"Super Fan" B.J. Hickman, center, moves away from the courthouse complex after receiving a restraining order based on a Court TV reporter's complaint.
A fan was arrested after spray- painting this likeness of Michael Jackson with angel's wings on the sidewalk near the courthouse.