3 Apr 2013
Jackson doctor refuses to testify at AEG Live trial
LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson's jailed former doctor refused to testify at a trial in which the singer's mother is seeking massive damages from tour promoters she blames for hiring the medic.
Commenting as jury selection began for the wrongful death civil trial between Katherine Jackson and AEG Live, Conrad Murray said he is appealing his 2011 involuntary manslaughter conviction and does not want to incriminate himself.
"I've not been subpoenaed. I'm not interested in giving testimony in the trial,' he told CNN. "I will invoke my 5th Amendment right, because ... if there is a future trial I don't want to have any issues of self-incrimination."
The interview, his first since he was jailed, came hours after prospective jurors filed into a Los Angeles courtroom to begin the process of choosing the 12-strong panel that will decide if AEG ends up paying billions of dollars.
Judge Yvette Palazuelos started proceedings by reading out the allegations by Katherine Jackson and the late star's children against AEG Live, promoters of the self-styled King of Pop's doomed "This is It" tour.
Opening statements will only begin once a jury is chosen -- likely to take more than a week. After answering an initial questionnaire, prospective jurors were asked to return to court next Wednesday for further questioning.
Jackson died at his Los Angeles mansion on June 25, 2009, from an overdose of propofol, a powerful sedative administered by Murray to help the "Thriller" legend deal with chronic insomnia.
His 82-year-old mother accuses AEG Live of negligently hiring Murray to look after 50-year-old Jackson as he rehearsed in Los Angeles for the London shows scheduled for that summer.
Katherine Jackson argues that AEG Live pushed her son too hard to prepare for 50 or more performances, in what was seen as an attempt to revive his lucrative career four years after emerging from the shadow of child molestation charges.
But AEG says Jackson had a history of drug abuse long before the singer met Murray, who was hired to care for him before and during the shows at London's O2 Arena.
Murray has always maintained his innocence, and did so again Tuesday.
"I am an innocent man ... I maintain that innocence," he told CNN. "I am extremely sorry that Michael has passed. It's a tremendous loss for me."
"He was very close to me ... we were absolutely great friends," he added.
While Murray says he will not testify, Katherine Jackson herself, as well as the late pop star's two elder children, are expected to give evidence in the trial, which could last more than two months.
No Jackson family members were in court for the initial jury proceedings Tuesday. There were also few Jackson fans, such as those who turned out day after day during Murray's trial two years ago.
According to celebrity news website TMZ, Jackson's mother and his three children -- Prince, 16, Paris, 14 and 11-year-old Blanket -- want more than $40 billion from AEG for loss of future earnings and other damages.
But Jackson family attorney Kevin Boyle rejected the report, telling CNN: "No demand has been made by the Jackson family for $40 billion from AEG. That is just not true."
Before jury selection began in the LA Superior Court, the judge heard arguments by both sides over a request by CNN for live television coverage of the proceedings. She did not immediately rule on the issue.
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