Michael Jackson doctor's trial 'on course' despite appeal, judge says
A judge said that the trial for Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray will proceed "on course," despite his lawyer's last-minute appeal to sequester witnesses prior to his upcoming trial, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor confirmed that jury selection will begin on September 8 as planned, unless the Court of Appeal stays the involuntary manslaughter trial. During jury selection, 480 potential jurors will be brought in over the course of three days.
Those who do not meet qualifications will be dismissed and a group of 100 jurors will appear in court around September 23 for the voir dire process, where the attorneys will select or reject those who do not meet their guidelines.
Autopsy results have shown that the King of Pop died from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic Propofol and two other sedatives. Murray was at the singer's side when he died at age 50 at his Los Angeles on June 25, 2009 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 wanted future jurors to be "insulated" from what they call "pervasive media coverage" of the legal proceedings. Last month, a judge ruled against removing jurors from their homes, saying he did not want to inconvenience potential jurors and make them feel like prisoners.
Murray's lawyers stated in their appeal, which was filed on Friday, September 2, that the "constant media coverage and the persuasiveness of their coverage is a clear and present danger" to Murray's "right to have a verdict based only on the evidence presented in court."
"Every restaurant, bar, gym, supermarket or coffee shop will become a potential source of information" for the jurors, Murray's attorney say in the court papers, obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com."
Jury selection for Murray's trial is set to begin on September 8. Murray's lawyers want this date postponed until an appeals court rules on the sequestration issue. Opening statements are expected to be made on September 27. The trial is estimated to last between four and six weeks.
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.
"I'm afraid we are not going to be able to put on any evidence in this trial," Murray's attorney, J. Michael Flanagan, said as he headed out of the courtroom.
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.