Michael Jackson / Conrad Murray in the news > Dr. Conrad Murray returns to court in Michael Jackson's death


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25 Jan 2011

Dr. Conrad Murray returns to court in Michael Jackson's death

 http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/01/25/california.conrad.murray.hearing/

By Alan Duke, CNN
January 25, 2011 5:50 a.m. EST
Dr. Conrad Murray faces arraignment Tuesday in the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson.
Dr. Conrad Murray faces arraignment Tuesday in the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson.
 
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dr. Conrad Murray's arraignment is expected to last just a few minutes
  • The doctor could demand a trial in 60 days
  • A judge ruled earlier this month the involuntary manslaughter case should be tried

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Dr. Conrad Murray faces arraignment Tuesday morning on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of Michael Jackson.

The hearing is expected to last just a few minutes with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor. Murray is expected to plead not guilty.

Murray has a right to demand a trial within 60 days, but a trial date is not expected to be set yet.

Pastor ruled after a preliminary hearing earlier this month that there was enough evidence to send Murray's case to trial.

"Michael is not with us today because of an utterly inept, incompetent, reckless doctor, the defendant Conrad Murray," Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said in his final arguments then.

Murray remains free on a $75,000 bond, but the judge blocked the doctor from using his California medical license until the trial is completed. The state medical board requested that be made a provision of his bail.

While Jackson was Murray's only and last California patient, Murray's lawyer argued a suspension in one state would prompt Texas and Nevada, where he sees patients, to also take action.

Murray's lawyers appeared satisfied with the results of the preliminary hearing because of testimony they got from prosecution witnesses that might help raise reasonable doubt about Murray's guilt at trial.

"I think the prosecution is going to change their tactics in this case," defense lawyer J. Michael Flanagan said after court. "It's not the same as what they gave in opening statements."

The prosecution's expert witness in the case admitted he made a math mistake and that the recalculation supports the defense theory that Michael Jackson may have given himself the fatal dose of propofol.

Propofol is a surgical anesthetic that the Los Angeles coroner ruled killed Jackson in combination with several sedatives found in his blood.

Dr. Richard Ruffalo, an anesthesiologist hired by the prosecution, was the last witness to take the stand.

"I actually made a mistake on that," Ruffalo said during cross-examination, referring to his calculation of the levels of propofol in Jackson's stomach fluid.

The admission drew an audible gasp from Jackson family members sitting in court.

Murray's lawyers suggest a frustrated and sleepless Jackson may have poured the surgical anesthetic propofol into his juice bottle while the doctor was out of his bedroom.

"Now it doesn't make sense unless he ingested it orally in a huge amount," Ruffalo testified.

But he said Murray would still be at fault, because he left dangerous drugs near a patient who was addicted, Ruffalo said.

"It's like leaving a syringe next to a heroin addict," Ruffalo said. "If he's not getting what he wants, when you leave the room he might reach for it himself."

"Either way, it doesn't matter," he testified. "He abandoned his patient and didn't resuscitate appropriately."

Murray should have anticipated that Jackson, who had previously asked to inject himself, might do this, Ruffalo said.

"He gets upset if he doesn't get his milk," he said, referring to Jackson's habit of referring to propofol as his "milk."

La Toya Jackson, the pop star's sister, was clearly upset by hearing a prosecution witness portray her brother as an addict.

The pathologist who conducted Jackson's autopsy acknowledged it was possible, although improbable, that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of the propofol.

Murray said in a police interview two days after the death that a sleepless Jackson begged him for propofol the day he died, a police detective testified.

While Murray told police he eventually gave Jackson propofol, the defense lawyer suggested that it could be that a frustrated Jackson poured the fatal dosage into his juice and drank it.

Jackson had depended on propofol to put him to sleep almost every night in the previous weeks as he was preparing for his "This Is It" comeback concerts, but Murray began to wean him off the surgical anesthetic two nights earlier, Murray told police.

A civil lawsuit filed last year by Jackson's mother against the company producing the concerts alleged that he had been warned a week earlier "that if Jackson missed any further rehearsals, they were going to 'pull the plug' on the show."



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