It was a few minutes after 1 p.m. when the moment many had waited hours for finally arrived: The verdict was in, and Conrad Murray was guilty. They cheered, they cried, they embraced strangers like longtime friends.
And, then, with perfect timing, a black Volkswagen Beetle cruised by, a Michael Jackson impersonator behind the wheel and “Billie Jean” blaring from the speakers.
Candace Juleff was wearing a tank top bedazzled with the silhouette of the pop star, and she pulled her top off when she heard the news, waving it around in front of the TV news cameras, wearing only a sports bra.
“Yes! Yes!” she screamed. “Justice for Michael!”
Juleff pulled Annabel Garcia, 37, into a tight embrace. Both women sobbed.
“Nothing will bring him back,” Juleff, 42, said, tears streaming down her face."But at least someone will pay for his death.”
“It’s a big comfort,” added Garcia, “knowing someone is going to pay for leaving those children without a father.”
After the verdict was announced, a few held their smartphones above their heads as they waited to hear whether Murray would be taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs. When he was, the crowd erupted again. “They’re taking him to jail!” people cried.
Jackson’s family — his parents and some of his siblings — were quickly ushered in and out in shiny black cars. Only La Toya Jackson paused, waving and offering her gratitude while holding a bouquet of roses.
In the span of a few short hours, a cast of characters emerged among them. There was the prominent cable news host nearly trampled in the midday mosh pit. The television crews from around the world, with cameramen from Korea, the Czech Republic and Australia, all nudging their counterparts to get out of their shot.
And there were the fans themselves — one man with a license plate reading “LOVE4MJ,” and the one teary-eyed man who looked like a mix between Uncle Sam and James Brown were quite popular with the TV crews. Then, there was a so-called neutral party: a woman with a sign reading “TRUST JESUS,” bellowing so loudly that her voice rose above the din.
There were supporters for Murray too. They argued that it was Jackson’s serious drug addiction that killed him and said that Murray was a Christian man of upstanding character. “He loved Michael Jackson and Michael Jackson loved him,” said Beatrice Fakhrian, who said she attended church and played golf with Murray. “I’ve said from the beginning he’s an innocent man.”
But minutes after the verdict, as Jackson fans were dancing to his music, Murray’s supporters had vanished. The only thing left was a sign discarded by the courthouse: “Judge not Dr. Murray, he is innocent.”
Times staff writer Ruben Vives contributed to this report.