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Jury can see Michael Jackson autopsy photos in his doctor's trial

By the CNN Wire Staff
Dr. Conrad Murray has said he was trying to wean Michael Jackson off propofol.
Dr. Conrad Murray has said he was trying to wean Michael Jackson off propofol.
  • NEW: "Properly redacted" photos will show Jackson "in excellent health," prosecutors say
  • A California judge rules 2 Jackson autopsy photos can be admitted as evidence
  • They will be part of the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is accused in Jackson's death
  • Murray contends that Jackson personally administered the fatal dose of a drug

(CNN) -- California Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled Thursday that two autopsy photos of Michael Jackson can be submitted as evidence during the upcoming trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, a person inside the courtroom told CNN.

Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Authorities allege that he gave Jackson propofol, a surgical anesthetic drug, that combined with several sedatives found in his blood to kill the singer on June 25, 2009, the Los Angeles County coroner has said.

Jury selection in Murray's trial began last month and will continue into early May. Opening statements and testimony are scheduled to begin May 9.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and his team had filed a motion Tuesday to allow jurors to see the photos, arguing that California courts "permit (prosecutors) to admit autopsy photographs, as they are relevant, (that) will illustrate the testimony of witnesses and will enhance the jury's understanding of the prosecution's case." The photographs will be "properly redacted as deemed appropriate," the prosecution said.

"These limited photographs will help demonstrate that Michael Jackson was generally in excellent health and that, while thin, his body weight was within the normal range," the prosecution said in its motion, adding that the medical examiner and other experts may reference the autopsy photos during the trial.

The defense has argued that Jackson self-administered the propofol in a desperate attempt to get sleep before a rehearsal.

Murray told investigators he was trying to wean Jackson off propofol in the last days of his life, but that he used it along with other drugs to help the pop star sleep that last morning.

The defense claims that the singer's dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, injected Jackson with powerful painkillers dozens of times in the last months of his life, unknown to Murray.

The Medical Board of California and Los Angeles County coroner investigated Klein after Jackson's death, but he was never charged, and no action was taken to revoke his medical license.

Earlier this month, Michael Jackson's dermatologist was ordered to give copies of the pop star's medical records to Murray's attorneys.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff argued he needed the financial and medical information to make the case that Jackson, who he said was "a desperate man in many respects," gave himself the fatal dose of surgical anesthesia while the doctor was not watching.

Judge Pastor did not order estate executors to give the defense detailed financial information about money the singer owed when he died. But he did say that Jackson's former business manager, Tohme Tohme, must testify in Murray's trial.