Jury Selection Begins for Jackson Doctor Trial
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Jury Selection Begins for Jackson Doctor Trial

Friday, 09 September 2011, 10:18 Hrs
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LOS ANGELES: Jury selection began Thursday to choose the 12-strong panel that will decide the fate of Michael Jackson's doctor, accused of manslaughter over the pop icon's shock 2009 death at the age of 50.
The judge overseeing the trial, due to begin later this month, started by asking the 160 potential jurors if any of them knew nothing about the case against Conrad Murray -- in theory the ideal scenario for an unbiased juror.

When not a single hand was raised, judge Michael E. Pastor of the Los Angeles Superior Court joked: "We didn't expect you'd been living under a rock... or made a pit-stop from Mars."
Murray, attending the first day of jury selection in the downtown courtroom, said "Good morning" when presented to the candidates, but otherwise remained silent.

The possible jury members were questioned initially on whether they were fit and able to serve in the trial provisionally scheduled to start on September 27. Those deemed able filled in an exhaustive questionnaire. The judge wants to whittle the 160 candidates, comprising a cross-section of LA's ethnic make-up -- down to around 100. If Thursday's group does not provide enough, more new candidates will be summoned Friday and Monday, if needed.

The trial, which will be televised, is due to last about 25 court days and end around October 28, the judge said. Outside the court there were only two demonstrators: one in favor of Murray, one against. In the past large numbers of demonstrators have turned up for pre-trial hearings, and may are expected when the trial actually starts.

"Justice for Michael Jackson," read the anti-Murray placard, while the other declared: "I support Dr. Conrad Murray. An Innocent Man Who Must Be Exonerated!!"

The trial was originally to start in May and a three-day jury selection process occurred then, but those chosen were dismissed after the judge delayed the case to give Murray's lawyers more time to prepare.
Murray, the last doctor to treat Jackson, is on trial for involuntary homicide in Jackson's death on June 25, 2009 after an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol, which the singer used as a sleeping aid. Jackson's death, on the eve of a planned series of comeback concerts in London aimed at reviving his reputation and finances battered by child sex allegations, stunned fans around the world.
His personal doctor is charged with administering propofol - usually used as an anesthetic -- to the star and then neglecting to monitor him closely enough. Murray's defense team is expected to argue that Jackson gave himself an excessive dose of the drug while the doctor was out of the room at the singer's mansion in the affluent Holmby Hills neighborhood west of Los Angeles.

In the run-up to the trial, the judge has dealt with a number of requests: in August he barred defense attorneys for Murray from calling Jackson's former physicians as witnesses.
He also refused to sequester the jury despite a case the defense says could be "the most publicized in history" -- comparable to the mid-1990s O.J. Simpson trial, in which jurors were sequestered to guard against outside influence.

The trial will start as plans continue for a tribute concert to the late singer, scheduled for October 8 in Wales but clouded by infighting between members of Jackson's family. When the star's mother Katherine Jackson and her children made public their plans for the tribute concert in late July, Randy and Jermaine issued a sharp rebuke, blasting the timing of event.

"There will come a time and place for an amazing and deserving tribute to Michael. But we feel that the most important tribute we can give to our brother at this time is to seek justice in his name," the pair said on Twitter in July.
Source: PTI
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