Michael Jackson death trial: Conrad Murray's jury sequestration bid denied by court of appeals
The California Court of Appeal has denied a bid by the attorneys of Michael Jackson's doctor to overturn a judge's refusal to sequester jurors of his upcoming involuntary manslaughter trial, clearing the way for the proceedings to begin on schedule.
Conrad Murray's lawyers wanted future jurors to be "insulated" from what they call "pervasive media coverage" of the trial. Last month, Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled against removing jurors from their homes, saying he did not want to inconvenience potential jurors and make them feel like prisoners. He also said jury sequestration would cost the court more than $500,000.
On Tuesday, the judge said jury selection will begin on September 8 as planned despite Murray's lawyers' last-minute appeal, which was filed on Friday.
"Concerned, very concerned," one of them, Michael Flanagan, told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "He didn't do it"."
The attorneys had said Pastor abused his discretion when he denied their bid. The Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that their petition is denied in the absence of a showing of abuse of discretion.
Autopsy results have shown that Jackson, the King of Pop, died at age 50 at his Los Angeles on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and two other sedatives. Murray is believed to have been at the singer's side that day and pleaded not guilty in January to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
Murray's lawyers say Jackson drank propofol while the doctor was away from his bedside.
During jury selection, 480 potential jurors will be brought in over the course of three days, starting on Thursday at 9 a.m. PT / 12 a.m. ET, when 160 people will arrive. Those who do not meet qualifications will be dismissed. A group of 100 potential jurors will appear in court around September 23 for the voir dire process, during which the attorneys will select or reject those who do not meet their guidelines.
Opening statements are expected to be made on September 27. The trial is estimated to last between four and six weeks. During the proceedings, jurors must eat all their meals in a secluded room and will not be allowed to roam the hallways of the courthouse
The judge has made several rulings about what can and what cannot be presented during the trial.
A Norway study involving intravenous and rectal administration of propofol in piglets can be cited and is set to be used as basis for one expert's opinion on whether propofol would have any effect if ingested. Flanagan opposed the inclusion of the experiment, saying that it was not carried out on humans.
The judge has yet to rule on whether a Chile study of propofol that did involve human subjects can be mentioned during the proceedings.
Witnesses will not be allowed to testify about the King of Pop's 2005 child molestation case, during which the singer was found not guilty, a judge ruled on August 29, adding that such information is irrelevant to Murray's case and would be distracting and misleading for the jury. They also cannot discuss objects or substances that may have been confiscated from his Neverland Ranch.
Jackson was known for his friendships with child and teenage celebrities, such as Macaulay Culkin. "Punky Brewster" actress Soleil Moon Frye recently detailed her own childhood encounters with Jackson in her new book.
The judge also posed more hurdles for Murray's attorneys. He said that Arnold Klein, Jackson's dermatologist, is not allowed to testify at the involuntary manslaughter trial.
Murray's attorneys had said that Klein had prescribed the painkiller Demerol to Jackson and that the singer was withdrawing from it at the time of his death. Prosecutors said the defense was trying to divert attention from Murray and pin the blame on Klein.
Others barred from testifying - a police detective who searched Jackson's Neverland Ranch while he was being investigated for child molestation, Grace Rwaramba, former nanny of the singer's children and Chris Carter, a former bodyguard.
Among those who will be allowed to testify at Murray's trial - Karen Faye, Jackson's makeup artist and hair stylist, who has said she became worried about the singer's health prior to his death, physicians David Adams and Allen Metzger, who have treated the him, and the King of Pop's nurse, Cherylin Lee.
Jury selection for Murray's trial is set to begin on September 8. The prosecution has prepared about 30 pages worth of questions for prospective jurors to answer. Murray was ordered to attend a hearing two days earlier.
Correction: In the September 9 story above, OnTheRedCarpet.com erroneously reported the name of a court as the Los Angeles Court of Appeals. It is actually named the California Court of Appeal. This version of the article has been updated to reflect the correction.