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Ill Jackson is taken to emergency room

Flu-like symptoms stall jury selection in criminal trial

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Michael Jackson was taken to an emergency room with flu-like symptoms yesterday, delaying jury selection in the pop star's child-molestation case for a week.

The entertainer was being treated for a ''flu-like illness with some vomiting," Dr. Chuck Merrill said at a brief news conference at Marian Medical Center about five hours after Jackson's illness was announced in court by the judge.

''He's in stable condition, and we expect a full recovery," Merrill said. The doctor would not answer questions. Jackson was admitted to the hospital and was to stay there overnight, his brother Randy said.

Earlier, as potential jurors filed into the courtroom, including a few who were scolded by bailiffs for being late, Jackson's seat remained empty. Nearly 20 minutes after the singer was scheduled to arrive, Judge Rodney S. Melville announced that Jackson had been taken to a hospital.

He said the 46-year-old singer would need three or four days to recover and noted that several members of the jury pool were out with the flu and that it appeared to be going around.

The judge said Jackson had been on his way to court but was taken to a hospital emergency room instead.

Outside the hospital, about 2 miles from the courthouse, a growing crowd of about 50 fans and reporters gathered. Police officers guarded all entrances, stopping anyone who appeared to be with the news media, while hospital officials put up white fabric to hide what was going on in the emergency room.

Jury selection had already been delayed for a week because of the death of a defense lawyer's sister.

The two sides are selecting 12 jurors and eight alternates who will decide whether Jackson molested a teenage cancer patient at his Neverland Ranch and plied the youngster with alcohol. The trial could last about six months.

Names of defense and prosecution witnesses were revealed to prospective jurors Monday so lawyers could find out if any of the more than 240 members of the pool had associations that may be important in jury selection.

Jackson's lawyers have announced they may try to call such stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Jay Leno, Quincy Jones, and Kobe Bryant to the stand.

Defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. also named two of Jackson's children, Paris and Prince Michael. Possible prosecution witnesses included Debbie Rowe, their mother.

Other possible witnesses included: Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Chris Tucker, former child actor Corey Feldman, Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and younger brother Aaron, CBS correspondent Ed Bradley, CNN's Larry King, Fox broadcaster Rita Cosby, New Age guru Deepak Chopra, illusionist Uri Geller, illusionist David Blaine, Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn, and relatives of the late Marlon Brando.

Prosecutors also listed the family of a boy involved in 1993 molestation allegations against Jackson. The judge has not yet ruled whether that incident can be mentioned in the trial. The accuser received a multimillion-dollar settlement and no criminal charges were filed.

Both sides listed former Jackson lawyer Mark Geragos, and the defense list included Jackson's chief prosecutor, District Attorney Tom Sneddon.

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