Local Reaction to Jackson Verdict

Prosecutors charged Michael Jackson with giving young boys alcohol and molesting them. Both sides brought out witnesses totaling more than 140. The prosecution painted Jackson as a predator, the defense claimed he was the victim of a gold-digging family.

In the end, late yesterday afternoon, the California jury found him not guilty on all counts. They say the prosecution just couldn't make the case.

Jackson quickly left the courthouse with his entourage, but without talking to anyone.

It's the hot topic most everywhere you go. We hit the streets last night and found the sports bar televisions tuned to the trial, not the big games. In Sorry Charlie's in City Market, you could hear all sorts of arguments about whether Jackson was guilty or not and zero conversations about the NBA finals and Mike Tyson's latest defeat.

"I think he's guilty. I think he was guilty the first time," said Chuck Maris of Savannah.

"He's not guilty and people just saying it to get money," disagreed another patron, Tammy.

One group at Sorry Charlie's was putting opinions on the line at $5 a bet. "Being in a bar in general and betting on something as awful as child molestation is awkward in the beginning, but with Michael Jackson it's such a childlike atmosphere, it almost seems appropriate for us to be in here doing something like this," said Roger Crews.

All joking aside, when the verdict was announced there were honest, open reactions from people keeping tabs on the trial.

"I also don't think he did the stuff he's been accused of, it's just become a matter of him not being able to tell the difference between what is socially acceptable and isn't," said Katherine Agurcia.

People on both sides of the debate say the attention this trial got, and the crowds outside the courthouse, became ridiculous.

"There were people lining the streets, holding hands and people releasing doves at every verdict, it's just a carnival atmosphere everywhere you go," said Crews.

Whether they agree or disagree with the jury's verdict, almost everyone we talked with said they wouldn't be surprised to see this same scenario in another year or two.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com