SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) – They come from down the road and overseas. They dance to Michael Jackson’s songs, write their own lyrics proclaiming his innocence, date each other, even lose their jobs for the cause.

A verdict in the Jackson case will end not only the circus-like trial but also the noisy and colorful gatherings of fans who stand outside court to shout their support for the pop star. It has been a 4½-month-long gathering as quirky as Jackson himself.

On Tuesday, as the jury completed its second full of deliberations without a verdict, 100 fans milled about, sometimes singing along to Jackson songs from a boom box and hoisting signs such as one that read, “Don’t Mess With MJ Fans.”

A woman sat with a box of 11 doves she planned to release in the afternoon – one for each of the counts against Jackson, plus one. Others chanted “Michael! Innocent!”

Followers of the entertainer “meet some wonderful people,” said fan and London resident Sudhir Kumra.

After the first full day of deliberations ended Monday afternoon, about 50 Jackson backers made the trip to Neverland’s well-guarded gates, which are adorned with red paper hearts and red and white bunting.

A few dozen fans held hands in a circle and prayed in the driveway.

“He will not lose, not one thing that he has worked for,” said Goward Horton, a 24-year-old who led the prayer. “Not this ranch, not his children, not anything. The devil will be defeated.”

Rebecca Reza, 25, who leads a Jackson fan club, drove 18 hours from El Paso, Texas, after taking off from her job.

“I won’t find out till tomorrow whether I still have a job,” she said. Previously she was fired from her job at a sandwich shop because she attended Jackson’s January 2004 arraignment.

Jackson fan Faisal Malik, a 30-year-old cancer researcher from Los Angeles, said he made new friends from France, Holland and Spain during his once-a-week visits to the courthouse.

When he wasn’t sketching the back of Jackson’s head after winning a lottery for one of 45 courtroom seats reserved for the public, he sat with fans and chatted.

“Sometimes we talk about the trial and sometimes we talk about our own lives,” he said, “because we do have lives other than this.”


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