Security tightened as jury deliberates in Jackson trial


SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The jury in Michael Jackson's child molestation case ended its sixth day of deliberations without a verdict as officials moved to tighten security at the court site yesterday.

Jurors will return Monday at 8:30 a.m. to resume their discussions.

During more than 28 hours of deliberations, the jury has asked Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville one question. The details have not been made public.

Jackson, 46, is charged with four felony counts of molesting a 13-year-old boy in early 2003.

He is also charged with four felony counts of plying the boy with alcohol to aid molestation.

The singer is also charged with conspiring with aides to control the accuser and his family so they would participate in a favorable interview.

If convicted of all charges, Jackson faces more than 18 years in prison.

While jurors wrestled with the charges in the courthouse, rumors swirled outside among the more than 1,200 journalists.

When black sport utility vehicles were reported to have sped away from Jackson's Neverland ranch, some reporters were convinced that the pop star had been told a verdict was pending.

That rumor turned out to be unfounded.

The days usually begin with about two dozen Jackson fans, but the crowd grows to about 200 as the day wears on. Officials are becoming increasingly concerned about fans who appear to be more vocal and belligerent.

Santa Maria police added officers and barricades at the scene.

The courthouse campus area has been closed to fans, and members of the news media have been asked to stay within the barricaded area so that reporters can be protected when a verdict is rendered.

Fans have become increasingly rambunctious, shouting at journalists, especially television anchorwomen.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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