Michael Jackson Doctor's Trial: Jurors Won't See Jacko News Briefing

Sep 27, 2011, 08:59 by R.E. Christian

Jurors will not see video of Michael Jackson's final news conference, a Los Angeles judge ruled as the singer's doctor was set to go on trial for his death.

Lawyers for Dr. Conrad Murray, charged with involuntary manslaughter, had sought to present the footage as evidence Jackson was "under the influence" of drugs even before he met Murray. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled the footage was "not relevant" to how Jackson died June 25, 2009.

Murray, a Houston cardiologist, hired by Jackson for $150,000 a month six weeks before the pop icon died, is accused of injecting Jackson at his rented mansion in Los Angeles with propofol -- a powerful anesthetic normally used in surgical settings but given to Jackson to relieve insomnia -- and then not properly monitoring Jackson as he suffered cardiac arrest and succumbed to what prosecutors call "acute propofol intoxication."

Murray, 58, pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face a four-year prison term and the permanent loss of his medical license, which has been suspended pending the trial's outcome.

In opening arguments Tuesday, the prosecution was expected to claim Murray was grossly negligent in giving Jackson propofol at home without proper lifesaving equipment available, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported. Prosecutors allege Murray left Jackson's room for an extended period before returning to find Jackson not breathing.

Defense lawyers were expected to claim Jackson was desperate for sleep and administered an additional dose of the drug himself when Murray was out of the room, the Telegraph said.

Murray has told police he had been trying to wean Jackson off propofol and gave him only a minimal dosage, then left the room for 5 minutes to use the bathroom but cellphone records presented by prosecutors during pretrial hearings suggest Murray was making phone calls and sending text messages for a longer time.

The jury includes a panel of seven men and five women, including a postman and a TV director. Six jurors said they would consider themselves Jackson fans.

Jackson family members, including the singer's parents Katherine and Joe, are expected to be in the courtroom. They wanted Murray charged with murder.

The court has assigned seats to 32 media organizations, up from 21 in its initial plans.

To minimize the potential for a media circus, Pastor will have a kill switch to shut off courtroom cameras in case of an unruly witness or other disruption, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Source: UPI