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Michael Jackson doctor to face death charge in court

posted 4 Jan 2011, 10:05 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 4 Jan 2011, 10:07 ]
Prosecutors began offering evidence on Tuesday (January 4) that Michael Jackson's doctor is responsible for the pop star's death in a case that could hinge on who gave the singer a fatal dose of a powerful drug he used for sleep.

Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's physician in 2009, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter over the death and a Los Angeles judge on Tuesday starts the preliminary hearing -- largely seen by legal experts as a formality -- to determine if enough evidence exists to bring the physician to a full trial.

Jackson, one of the best-selling recording artists of all time who generated hits like "Thriller" and "Billie Jean," died of a prescription drug overdose on June 25, 2009, at age 50, after suffering cardiac arrest while in bed at his rented mansion.

Murray has admitted injecting Jackson with the anaesthetic propofol, which has been determined to be a key factor in his death. The drug is used mostly in hospital settings, but it was given to Jackson at home as a sleep aid.

Prosecutors hope to paint the doctor, who was hired by a concert promoter to care for Jackson before a series of performances, as a man who was in financial trouble and would irresponsibly give the singer drugs to keep his pay cheque.

Murray has pleaded not guilty, and last week defence attorneys indicated they may focus on a mysterious syringe found near Jackson to explore whether someone other than Murray injected the singer with the fatal dose of propofol.

Last week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor cleared the way for the defence to test residue from syringes and an intravenous tube used to administer drugs to Jackson.

Following Jackson's death, the Los Angeles County coroner determined that propofol and the sedative lorazepam were the main drugs that caused Jackson's death.

In their investigation, police and prosecutors focused on Murray and whether he had given Jackson too many drugs when the doctor should have known better.

Evidence in Jackson's death has been outlined in search warrant affidavits, but prosecutors will present more of their case against Murray in the preliminary hearing, which the doctor's attorneys say could last two weeks.