Preliminary Hearing Enters Second Week
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors are poised to focus on the science of what killed Michael Jackson as the second week begins in the preliminary hearing for the doctor charged in the King of Pop’s death.
Dr. Conrad Murray, who faces involuntary manslaughter charges, is accused of giving Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives. He has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys say he did not give the entertainer anything that should have killed him.
After the hearing, a judge will rule on whether there is enough evidence for the Houston-based cardiologist to stand trial. It is scheduled to resume Monday morning.
The hearing, which began last week, has included a significant amount of prosecution evidence during four days of testimony against Murray. Among the witnesses was a bodyguard who said he was told to place vials of medicine in bags before calling 911.
Paramedics and an emergency-room doctor with a combined 50 years of experience also said they believe the singer died long before he was rushed by a paparazzi-hounded ambulance to a nearby hospital, where efforts failed to revive the pop superstar.
Using phone records and testimony from police and Murray’s current and former girlfriends, prosecutors have developed a timeline that shows Murray was on the phone throughout the morning of Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, including after administering propofol to the singer.
They hope to convince a judge of several key points: that Murray was distracted when he should have been monitoring Jackson, that he delayed called 911, that he botched CPR efforts and that the singer was dead before help was summoned.
The remainder of the hearing was likely to take a decidedly clinical approach, with coroner’s officials, propofol experts and police who interviewed Murray taking the stand.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said Friday that prosecutors told him they were ahead of schedule, although he did not indicate when the hearing may end. Sixteen witnesses have been called, and prosecutors appear to be at least halfway through presenting their case.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren initially said the hearing would take seven to eight days and require up to 30 witnesses.
Defense attorneys rarely present witnesses or their own theories during preliminary hearings. In Murray’s case, they did not make an opening statement and have only hinted at potential arguments as they questioned witnesses.
Those questions have focused on witnesses’ recollections of the timing of their actions.
Defense attorneys have asked a coroner’s investigator about Jackson’s proximity to medications in his room, including an empty vial of propofol found underneath a bedside table. A prosecutor objected to the question, and a judge blocked the answer.