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Americas

Michael Jackson's doctor pleads not guilty to involuntary manslaughter

©

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-25

Conrad Murray (pictured), Michael Jackson's personal physician, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the pop star's June 2009 death. Murray will stand trial in March.

AFP - Michael Jackson's personal doctor pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter Tuesday, as the date was set for his trial for allegedly killing the pop icon in June 2009.

             
Conrad Murray is to stand trial on March 28 on charges he gave Jackson an overdose of a powerful sedative, a judge ruled after an arraignment hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Court.
             
"Your honor, I am an innocent man. I therefore plead not guilty," Murray told Michael E. Pastor, shortly after the trial date was set following six days of preliminary hearings earlier this month.
             
His lawyer, Ed Chernoff, added: "Dr. Murray is looking forward to the opportunity to finally tell his side of the story... Dr. Murray has absolute faith in the jury system."
             
A prosecution spokeswoman voiced confidence that the accusations against Murray would be proven.
             
"The prosecution will be able to produce evidence that will fully support the charge against Dr. Murray," said Sandi Gibbons of the office of the Los Angeles county district attorney.
             
Murray, who claims he was just administering an insomnia treatment when the singer died in June 2009, pleaded not guilty after preliminary hearings found enough evidence against him to stand trial.
             
He could face up to four years in jail and permanently lose his doctor's license if he is convicted.
             
The doctor had his license to practice medicine in California suspended after six days of pre-trial hearings, which included evidence that Murray tried to cover up giving Jackson an overdose of the drug propofol.
             
Murray's lawyer said however he was still working as a doctor. "Currently, Dr. Murray still has a medical license in Texas and Nevada," said Chernoff
             
"He's going to keep treating patients until that changes," he added.
             
A Jackson fans' group leader welcomed the fact that Murray will stand trial, but said it should be for murder.
             
"We're pleased that the judge has ordered him to stand trial... but we believe that there is enough evidence that Conrad Murray should be charged with murder," said Geraldine Hughes of fan group The Jackson Truth.
             
"We're outraged that the charge is still involuntary manslaughter."
             
The two sides are due back in court on February 7 for a hearing which will notably decide whether TV cameras will be allowed in the trial. The judge indicated he was inclined to allow it, but no decision was taken.
             
Jackson's death shocked the entertainment world and triggered intense debate over the performer's health in the run-up to London concerts, known as the "This is It" tour.
             
Prosecutors allege that Murray, 57, "abandoned his patient" after administering the propofol some time between 10:40 am and 11:00 am to help Jackson sleep, and then tried to cover it up after the singer's death.
             
Murray acknowledged that he had used propofol to treat Jackson's chronic insomnia, but insisted that on the day of the 50-year-old singer's death he administered only a small amount of the drug that should not have been fatal.
             
His defense team has suggested that Jackson could have effectively killed himself on June 25, 2009, by administering an extra dose of propofol while Murray was out of the room.
             
During the preliminary hearings the court heard from a series of witnesses who testified that Murray delayed calling 911, tried to conceal what drugs he had administered, and did not know how to carry out emergency resuscitation.
             
A detective who interviewed Murray two days after Jackson's death said the doctor admitted having administered a 25-milligram propofol dose and then monitored the singer for a while after he fell asleep at 11:00 am.
             
Murray said he then went out to the bathroom for two minutes, and was shocked when he returned to find Jackson not breathing, said detective Orlando Martinez.
             
"I remember Dr. Murray saying he believed it had just happened because he was only gone for a few minutes," said Martinez.
             

 

Date created : 2011-01-25

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