Dr Conrad Murray is told to face a trial accused with involuntary manslaughter. Photograph: Pat Sullivan/AP
A judge today ordered Michael Jackson‘s doctor to stand trial for the involuntary manslaughter of the pop superstar.
Prosecutors allege that Dr Conrad Murray gave Jackson a lethal dose of propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion, leading to the singer’s death in June 2009. The 57-year-old doctor has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys have said that he did not give Jackson anything that should have killed him. But after hearing six days of arguments at a preliminary hearing at the Los Angeles Superior court, Michael Pastor decided that there is a case to answer.
Pastor also granted a request by the California Medical Board to suspend Murray’s licence to practice in the state.
During the hearing, two doctors testified that even if Jackson self-administered the fatal dose, the physician caring for the singer would still have committed homicide. Defence attorneys have raised a question of whether Jackson killed himself.
Murray had been giving Jackson propofol, an anaesthetic normally administered in hospital settings, six nights a week for roughly two months before his death, prosecutor David Walgren told the court.
Using the testimony of Jackson’s security team and telephone records, prosecutors tried to paint a picture of Murray being neglectful of Jackson while he was on the drug. They claimed that Murray delayed calling the emergency services for at least 21 minutes after he found the singer not breathing, ordering a bodyguard to hide evidence of the singer’s drug use before help was called. Murray’s defence attorney, Joseph Low, argued the case should be dismissed because prosecutors did not adequately prove how the doctor caused Jackson’s death. He also said Jackson’s health may have been a contributing cause.
Murray could face up to four years in prison if convicted. Jackson’s siblings and parents were present every day at the hearing. They, along with fans, have called for Murray to be tried for murder. During the hearing, a plane flew over the courthouse trailing a banner that read, “Change the Charge to Murder.” A coroner ruled in 2009 that Jackson’s death was a homicide concluding that he died of “acute propofol intoxication”.