Trial of Michael Jackson's doctor begins as jury is set

Jurors seated in MJ death trial
Jurors seated in MJ death trial

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Story highlights

  • The judge must decide if the jury will hear about investigator's failed efforts to reach Murray
  • The 12 jurors include 5 women, 7 men, including one who once met MIchael Jackson
  • "It seems like a good jury panel," defense lawyer Michael Flanagan says
  • Opening statements will be heard Tuesday
Prosecutors want jurors in Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial to hear testimony about investigators' failed efforts to question the doctor in the weeks after Michael Jackson's death.
Defense lawyers have asked the judge to block the testimony, arguing it "would create substantial danger of undue prejudice, undue waste of time, confuse the issues, or mislead the jury."
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor may consider the issue at a hearing Monday morning, a day before opening statements are delivered in Murray's trial.
The selection of a jury Friday officially began the Murray's trial, which is expected to continue until the end of October.
The defense argued in a court filing Friday that the prosecution ignored Dr. Murray's "willingness to engage in various conversations and to take part in lengthy interviews conducted by law enforcement and medical personnel," including two days after Jackson's death when he voluntarily spent two hours answering police questions.
The case against Conrad Murray
The case against Conrad Murray

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Experts key in trial of Jackson's doctor
Experts key in trial of Jackson's doctor

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Michael Jackson fans kicked out of court
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"In fact, it was only after Dr. Murray learned that information was 'anonymously' leaked to the public that Dr. Murray decided to invoke his right to remain silent," the defense said.
A prosecution filing detailed email and phone mail attempts by the county coroner and a police detective to request meetings with Murray after the first interview.
"In actuality, law enforcement never contacted Dr. Murray during this time," the defense filing said. "Law enforcement's 'efforts' consisted merely of a handful of unanswered voice mails and emails that were left with Dr. Murray's counsel and with his office. There is no indication whatsoever that Dr. Murray acted evasively."
Twelve jurors and five alternates will report to court Tuesday morning to hear opening statements in the case against Murray. A sixth alternate juror was dismissed just minutes after she was sworn in Friday.
Judge Pastor sealed the reason for her dismissal, but court spectators overheard the woman acknowledging that she had dealings with one of Murray's lawyers several years ago. She failed to mention that during the jury selection process, but a man who had just been dismissed as a prospective juror gave the information to court officials.
"It seems like a good jury panel," defense lawyer Michael Flanagan said after the jury was seated Friday.
The jury consists of seven men and five women, include six who are white, five who listed their ethnicity as Mexican or hispanic and one who identified himself as African-American.
Flanagan said the defense paid little attention to juror's ethnicity, but instead focused on their answers to the 32-page jury questionnaire.
The court released copies of their answers late Friday, giving a glimpse at the 12 Los Angeles County residents who will decide Murray's fate.
Three of the women said they followed the Casey Anthony trial over the summer. Defense lawyers unsuccessfully used the Anthony case to argue that Murray jurors should be sequestered in a hotel during the trial to shelter them from media reports.
One juror, a retired cartoon animator, said he once met Michael Jackson.
Several jurors described themselves as Michael Jackson fans and two have seen "This Is It," the documentary of Jackson's rehearsals just before his death.
They and their fellow jurors will see clips from the film again since the prosecution is expected to show them during the first day of the trial Tuesday.
Murray could face up to four years in prison if the jury finds him guilty.
The Los Angeles coroner has ruled that Jackson's death on June 25, 2009, was caused by an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol combined with other drugs.
Prosecutors have accused Murray, who served as Jackson's personal and full-time physician at the time, of having a role in the overdose.
They contend Murray used a makeshift intravenous drip to administer propofol intended to help Jackson sleep, a practice they argue violated the standard of care and led to the pop music icon's death.