LOS ANGELES — A jury cleared a concert promoter of negligence on Wednesday in a case that attempted to link the death of Michael Jackson to the company that promoted his ill-fated comeback shows.
The panel rejected a lawsuit brought by Jackson's mother claiming AEG Live was negligent in hiring Conrad Murray, the doctor who killed Jackson with an overdose of a hospital anesthetic the singer used as a sleep aid.
The five-month trial provided the closest look yet at Jackson's drug use and his battles against chronic pain and insomnia.
It also took jurors behind the scenes in the rough-and-tumble world of negotiations with one of the world's most famous entertainers looking to solidify his legendary status after scandal interrupted his career.
With its verdict, the jury also delivered a somewhat surprising message: Jurors did not believe Murray was unfit or incompetent to perform his duties involving Jackson.
"That doesn't mean we felt he was ethical," jury foreman Gregg Barden said after the verdict was read.
He said the panel knew many people would not agree with the verdict but explained that the jury followed the language of the verdict form and instructions.
The ruling on the competence of Murray ended any further consideration of possible damages and who was at fault for the death.
After the hearing, juror Bryant Carino of Los Angeles was asked who was to blame for Jackson's death.
"I don't want to say whose fault it is," the 36-year-old Carino responded. "I'm not one to point fingers."
AEG Live lead defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam said he couldn't be more pleased with the verdict.
"They got it exactly right," he said.
Katherine Jackson told reporters she was OK after the verdict.