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Michael Jackson: Judge delays trial of Michael Jackson's doctor while defense team consults experts

Lawyers for Conrad Murray asked for more time, saying they need to consult additional experts in microbiology, pharmacokinetics and possibly even veterinary medicine.

May 03, 2011|By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times
  • Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, right, is seen in court in January. He has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Murray's trial has been postponed till September.
Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, right,… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

A judge on Monday postponed until September the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with pop star Michael Jackson's death.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said the delay was necessary to ensure that Murray receives a fair trial.

Murray's defense asked for a delay, saying they needed time to consult additional experts in microbiology, pharmacokinetics and possibly even veterinary medicine to understand what exactly happened in Jackson's body when he died June 25, 2009, after being injected with a powerful surgical anesthetic.

The doctor's attorneys said prosecutors had sprung new experts and scientific theories on them on the eve of trial. They said they could not be ready to address the new issues in time for the trial, originally slated to begin next week.

In a motion for continuance filed Sunday, attorneys for Murray suggested the prosecutor was "hurriedly attempting to repair a case that he felt needed bolstering."

Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren told Pastor that the expert opinions were not new theories and that the defense had created the situation by insisting on invoking Murray's right to a speedy trial.

Attorneys said in court that Dr. Steven Shafer, an anesthesiologist hired by prosecutors, concluded that it was impossible for Jackson to have died from drinking the drug propofol himself, a theory defense attorneys proposed during preliminary hearings. Shafer said that if the drug had been ingested orally, the liver would have metabolized 99% of the drug before it entered the bloodstream, according to the defense motion.

Pastor said Monday that even though he was "keenly aware of and sensitive to judicial economy in these hard times," the priority was Murray's right to a full-fledged defense by his attorneys. "My fundamental concern is fundamental fairness," he said.

Murray, 58, who has pleaded not guilty, agreed to give up his right to a speedy trial at Monday's hearing.

Jury selection for the trial will begin Sept. 8.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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