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Conrad Murray's lawyers ask judge to bar mention of his affairs, out-of-wedlock children

The defense says such evidence is irrelevant and would be used by prosecutors only 'to inflame the passions of the jury.' Murray, Michael Jackson's physician, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death.

April 08, 2011|By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times
  • Judge Michael Pastor ordered a hearing on defense and prosecution requests for April 21.
Judge Michael Pastor ordered a hearing on defense and prosecution requests… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Dr. Conrad Murray's legal team asked a judge Thursday to prohibit any mention of the physician's extramarital affairs, out-of-wedlock children or penchant for strip clubs at his manslaughter trial next month in the death of Michael Jackson.

In papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the defense argued that such evidence was irrelevant and would be used by prosecutors only "to inflame the passions of the jury."

"The prosecution's case involves the treatment and care of Michael Jackson provided by Dr. Murray. It is not about the existence and number of children Dr. Murray has, or about his personal sexual relationship with women," wrote defense lawyers Ed Chernoff and Nareg Gourjian. The filing also seeks to bar prosecutors from presenting evidence about lawsuits against Murray for failure to pay business debts and his home mortgage.

The request came a day after Murray's lawyers said they intended to make Jackson's precarious financial state central to their case. When Murray began working as Jackson's $150,000-a-month personal physician, the entertainer was nearly $500 million in debt and rehearsing for a make-or-break comeback attempt.

Meanwhile, Murray owed a host of creditors and was behind in child support for some of the six children he had fathered with four women.

The prosecution has indicated it will link Murray's complicated private life and attendant financial burdens with his desire to keep the job with Jackson and his medical performance.

The defense also objected to the use of pictures of Jackson's body at the trial, saying the "graphic, gruesome and highly prejudicial" photos would appeal to jurors' emotions and jeopardize Murray's right to a fair trial.

Judge Michael Pastor ordered a hearing on the requests for April 21.

The parties took another step toward selecting a jury Thursday with the finalization of a pool of about 170 prospective panelists, who were asked 117 questions about their background, life experience and opinions on the case and those connected to it. Among the questions:

•Have you ever considered yourself a fan of Michael Jackson or the Jackson family?

•Did you ever watch "This Is It" (the documentary of Michael Jackson's concert tour prep)?

•Have you had any particularly positive or negative experiences with doctors?

The questionnaire also asked if potential jurors "had any familiarity" with a laundry list of prescription drugs, including propofol, the surgical anesthetic blamed in Jackson's death.

Murray, 57, faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.

harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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