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Video: Jackson attorney: Dr. Murray was ‘reckless’

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    >> court appearance tied to the death of michael jackson . george lewis is in los angeles . george, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, matt. conrad murray , jackson 's personal physician said he wants a speedy trial on the charges of involuntary manslaughter. that's what they will get. the trial is scheduled to begin march 28 with jury selection. it is estimated the trial could take two months. the arraignment before l.a.'s superior court judge michael pastor was brief and to the point.

    >> to the charged defense of involuntary manslaughter, dr. murray , how do you plead?

    >> your honor, i am an innocent man. i plead not guilty.

    >> reporter: in june of 2009 as michael jackson was rehearsing for his "this is it" world tour .

    >> reporter: he complained he couldn't sleep. later dr. conrad murray told investigators he had given jackson the powerful drug propofol to overcome the insomnia but not enough to kill the star. at a preliminary hearing witnesses for the prosecution testified that after murray administered the drug at jackson 's rented mansion, the doctor made a series of phone calls, prosecutors alleging that murray neglected jackson while the singer was dying.

    >> he's pumping his chest, but he's not responding to anything, sir.

    >> reporter: that murray delayed calling 9-1-1, that he never told paramedics or doctors that he gave jackson propofolropofol, the drug they say killed jackson . there are questions about whether jackson gave himself the lethal dose .

    >> for his part, dr. murray is looking forward to the opportunity to finally tell his side of the story.

    >> reporter: so does that mean the doctor might actually testify?

    >> that could mean dr. conrad murray going on the witness stand . but it could also mean, hey, prosecutors, maybe you can come forward with a better deal.

    >> reporter: so far murray 's lawyers have said the doctor would not seek a plea bargain and he wants his day in court.

    >> the doctor has a right to go to trial. the defense wants to go to trial with this in 60 days and so does the prosecution. we're ready to go.

    >> reporter: meanwhile, dr. murray remains free on $75,000 bond. the doctor's license to practice medicine has been suspended in california. while he's awaiting trial here he can see patients in las vegas and houston. tom mezero successfully defended michael jackson against molestation charges in 2005 . good to see you. good morning.

    >> good morning, matt. thank you for inviting me.

    >> we should mention you are not unbiassed in the case. based on the evidence you have seen come forward, especially in the preliminary hearing , you're not buying dr. murray 's story, are you?

    >> i am not buying his story at all. i think he's guilty. i think he acted in a reckless, irresponsible way that caused michael jackson 's death.

    >> based on what you heard in that preliminary hearing , tom, are you surprised that the defense in this case is not pushing harder for a plea bargain ?

    >> well, i'm not surprised because the defense did not really tip their hand at the preliminary hearing . they asked very few questions. they didn't call any witnesses. i have to assume they have experts and witnesses ready to go they think will be helpful to them.

    >> we have an idea of a strategy. they may say, look, he was giving michael jackson propofol because jackson had a problem with insomnia and while dr. murray was out of the room michael jackson administered the dose himself. do you like that strategy as a defense attorney ?

    >> well, they have to come up with something. the evidence is damning. i think if they are going to throw ideas out to create reasonable doubt i don't think it will work.

    >> if you're the prosecution you have two important questions about the question. first, why were you using propofol in this setting anyway, it's not what it's intended for, correct?

    >> well, every doctor i have talked to is shocked that propofol was in the home. they are also shocked that a cardiologist was using it in the home and they are even shocked that the proper equipment and proper assistance was not there. clearly he was trying to stay involved with michael jackson at almost any cost and he wanted to embark on this big tour. he thought it would be a great moment for him and it backfired. i think he acted horribly.

    >> as a doctor, why would you leave a dose of propofol in an area where a patient or client could get his hands on it. that sounds negligent at least.

    >> i have talked to anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, a pathologist. they were all shocked this was in the home.

    >> involuntary manslaughter. this type of homicide charge, tom, is it easier for the prosecution to prove?

    >> yes, it is. it's not a charge of first or second-degree murder. i have heard that there was tremendous debate in the los angeles county district attorney 's office over whether to charge second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter won out. it's easier to prove. i think they have already got the evidence to prove it and i think they will.

    >> put your defense attorney hat on for a second, tom. if you are defending conrad murray , do you put him on the witness stand ?

    >> i think he's going to have to get on to explain why propofol was in the home and why he did what he did. you never know. the defense may think they can win the case on cross-examination and cases are won on cross without clients testifying. my sense at this point is given what i know they are probably going to have to have him testify.

    >> tom, as always, nice to see you. thank you very much.

Image: Conrad Murray
Pool  /  Reuters
Dr. Conrad Murray, right, seen here with lawyer Edward Chernoff, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop star Michael Jackson.
By
updated 1/28/2011 12:55:06 PM ET 2011-01-28T17:55:06

Michael Jackson's doctor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop superstar's death as the case moved rapidly toward a trial that will likely be televised.

"Your honor, I am an innocent man," Murray told Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor in a soft voice. "I definitely plead not guilty."

Lawyers for Murray, who is accused of giving Jackson a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives, said they would be ready to go to trial within the 60-day statutory time limit, which would make for an unusually speedy trial.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said the prosecution would be ready to go as well. The judge scheduled the trial to begin March 28 and set a pretrial hearing for Feb. 7.

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"Dr. Murray is looking forward to finally telling his side of the story," defense attorney Ed Chernoff said outside court.

Asked why the defense wants to begin the trial so quickly, Chernoff said, "Dr. Murray has been waiting 22 months for his opportunity to do this. It's the first chance we have to force the issue."

Pastor said he was inclined to allow television coverage of the trial and will hear attorneys' views on that and other issues at a Feb. 7 hearing.

District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said outside court that her office has a policy of not opposing cameras in court. Cameras were allowed at the hearing Tuesday for the first time, marking a shift in Pastor's previous ban.

Story: Jackson doctor ordered to stand trial

One of Murray's lawyers said earlier he would not seek a plea bargain, and the defense had no qualms about going to trial in spite of strong prosecution evidence at a preliminary hearing aiming to prove the doctor's gross negligence killed Jackson.

"We're going to go to trial," defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan said in an interview. "I think our case is really solid. We were very pleased with the way the evidence went at the preliminary hearing... This should result in an acquittal."

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Gibbons declined to comment on whether a plea bargain had been discussed saying it would be unethical to address such a matter.

Defense attorneys not connected to the case said Murray would be well advised to plea bargain.

"If I were advising him, I would be talking to the district attorney to see what they would be willing to accept," said criminal defense attorney Steve Cron. An offer of probation with community service and temporary suspension of Murray's medical license would be worth considering if it were proposed, he said.

Pastor has suspended Murray's license to practice in California pending trial.

Legal experts said several defenses are available to Murray. Among them is the suggestion by his lawyers that Jackson, desperate for sleep, self-administered a fatal dose of propofol while Murray was out of the room. That theory would mean Jackson either injected propofol into an IV line or swallowed the drug, which is meant to be administered intravenously during surgery.

Prosecution experts are likely to challenge that scenario. They also could say Murray was negligent in leaving the drug on a night stand where Jackson could reach it.

"They've got to explain why Dr. Murray was giving him propofol in the first place, in a setting where it is not normally given," said Cron, who has been watching the case.

Murray may have to testify in his own defense to provide the answers, Cron said. Chernoff said the defense has not yet made a decision on that possibility.

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"My guess is he will have to explain some of these things and present his persona to the jury as a reasonable, competent doctor," Cron said.

If convicted, Murray could face a maximum of four years in prison.

In a six-day preliminary hearing, a portrait emerged of a doctor trying to help his famous client overcome debilitating insomnia with propofol, which is not intended for home use. Jackson had used it before and demanded it, calling it his "milk."

A coroner testified that Jackson, 50, died of a propofol overdose in combination with other drugs on June 25, 2009. His death was classified as a homicide.

Murray's behavior before and after Jackson stopped breathing was detailed by household staff and paramedics. It was backed up with phone records, e-mails and, most importantly, a transcript of Murray's nearly three-hour interview with police.

Murray said he gave Jackson a low dose of propofol after spending 10 hours trying to get him to sleep using other drugs. When the star appeared to doze off, Murray said he left the room for two minutes to go to the bathroom then returned to find Jackson not breathing.

He delayed calling 911 for between 25 minutes and an hour while he tried to revive him, testimony showed.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Life and career

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  1. Little boy Michael

    Michael Jackson was just 12 when this picture was taken in May 1971, but his career was already stratospheric. Berry Gordy had signed the Jackson 5 to Motown Records in 1968, and Michael and his brothers had already topped the charts with "ABC" and "I'll Be There." It was a bright start for the boy from Gary, Ind. (Henry Diltz / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Signs of success

    Michael Jackson, far left, and the rest of the Jackson Five in 1972. The five brothers from Indiana were signed to Berry Gordy's Motown record label. (Frank Barratt / Getty Images file) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. All in the family

    The Jackson 5 perform in Los Angeles on a 1970s Bob Hope TV special. Michael continued to front the band, but his solo career was already on the rise, starting with 1971's "Got to Be There." (Neal Preston / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A wonderful Wiz

    Michael Jackson at the opening of "The Wiz." The 1978 movie musical was the first time the pop star worked with legendary producer Quincy Jones, who would soon produce Jackson's breakout solo album "Off the Wall," and eventually the "Thriller" album as well. Jackson's "Wiz" co-star was friend and mentor Diana Ross, who had introduced the world to the Jackson 5 back in 1969.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Bettmann / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Wanna be startin' somethin'?

    Michael Jackson performs in concert during a 1981 tour with his brothers. During the tour, Michael began writing down ideas for a solo project that blossomed into the highest selling album of all time.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Susan Phillips / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A mentor

    Michael Jackson and Diana Ross hold their American Music Awards in L.A. Jackson won for favorite soul album and Ross won for favorite female soul vocalist. (Juynh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Fright night

    Michael Jackson stands with a group of dancers dressed as zombies while filming his 1983 video "Thriller." "Thriller" was revolutionary in the music industry. The zombie-themed minimovie put MTV on the map and essentially confirmed music videos as an art form of their own. The album sold 25 million copies in the United States alone.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Corbis / Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Moment of stardom

    Michael Jackson performs the moonwalk during "Billie Jean" for the first time on television's "Motown 25," a tribute to Berry Gordy. The dance move that would become Michael's trademark stunned viewers and the crowd, and marked his imminent crowning as the King of Pop.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Bettmann / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Handfuls of glory

    With Quincy Jones at his side, Michael Jackson holds six of the eight awards he won for "Thriller" at the 1984 Grammy Awards. His outfit, complete with epaulets, sequined glove and dark shades, became a quintessential Michael look. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Role model

    During a May 1984 ceremony at the White House, Michael Jackson accepts a Presidential Award from President Reagan as first lady Nancy Reagan looks on. Jackson was honored as a model for American youth, and for lending his hit song "Beat It" to a new campaign against drunk driving. (Bettmann / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A scary day

    Michael Jackson, background, is seen with his hair on fire during a taping of a Pepsi TV commercial in Los Angeles on February 1984 as brother Jermaine Jackson, foreground, continues to perform, apparently unaware of the situation. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Gloved love

    In a newly released image, Michael Jackson is seen visiting burn victim Keith Perry in the burn center at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, Calif., on Feb. 4, 1984. The pop star was recuperating in the hospital after suffering from a burn to his head while filming a commercial for Pepsi-Cola. (Carl Arrington / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Crowd control

    Michael Jackson is led through a crowd by police on a 1985 promotional tour of Great Britain. (Dave Hogan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. They were the world

    In January 1985, a who's who of the music and movie worlds came together to sing "We Are the World," written to benefit famine victims in Ethiopia. Michael Jackson can be seen front and center, along with Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor and dozens of other stars. Michael's sister Janet can be seen bottom right. (Bettmann / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Victory lap

    Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, left, makes a July 1984 guest appearance during Michael Jackson's Victory Tour concert in Irving, Texas. Van Halen had recorded the now immortal guitar riff on "Beat It," to the displeasure of bandmate David Lee Roth, but to the delight of nearly everyone else.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Carlos Osorio / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Who's bad?

    Michael Jackson and his dancers in concert during a 1987 Tokyo concert on Jackson's "Bad" tour. The previous year, he had starred in the 3-D film "Captain EO," one of the most expensive short films ever. But Jackson had begun to draw more criticism as his albums and videos grew costlier and more infrequent. His next album, "Dangerous," wouldn't arrive until 1991. (Neal Preston / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A difficult year

    A cameraman photographs Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey in January 1993. This was the year Jackson was first accused of child molestation, and he took an opportunity on a 90-minute Oprah TV special to address the charges. The criminal allegations eventually were dropped, but Jackson reportedly paid as much as $25 million to settle the claims. (Neal Preston / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Black and white at the Super Bowl

    Michael Jackson gives a performance with 30,000 children during the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show on Jan. 31, 1993, in Pasadena, Calif. Despite allegations against him, Jackson's career had regained momentum with hits such as "Black or White" and "Remember the Time," and the "Dangerous" album was a multiplatinum seller. (Ralf-Finn Hestoft / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Clowning around

    Michael Jackson and French mime Marcel Marceau clowning for the cameras at the Beacon Theatre in New York on Dec. 4, 1995. (Bob Strong / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Power marriage

    Michael Jackson and then wife Lisa Marie Presley are seen at Neverland Ranch in preparation of the Children's World Summit in April 1995. Presley would file for divorce less than a year later, prompting speculation about just what had inspired the relationship. (Steve Starr / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Golden man

    Michael Jackson performs on stage during his "HIStory" world tour concert at Ericsson Stadium in November 1996 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Phil Walter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Marriage 2.0

    Just months after his divorce from Lisa Marie, Michael Jackson walked down the aisle with Debbie Rowe. This wedding photo was released by Jackson's publicist minutes after the Nov. 13, 1996, ceremony in Sydney, Australia. But the pairing was less about romance and more about bearing Jackson a child, and the two would divorce three years later, with Rowe eventually ceding parental rights to Jackson.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Reuters / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Best of friends

    Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor arrive at a Sept. 7, 2001, concert celebrating the 30 years of Jackson's career. The two stars had been longtime friends, and Taylor is godmother to two of Michael's children. (Jeff Christensen / Reuters / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Sharing his testimony

    Michael Jackson testifies on Nov. 13, 2002 in Santa Maria, Calif. Superior Court in a trial in which he is accused of cancelling concert appearances, costing the promoter several million dollars. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Not so invincible

    Michael Jackson poses for photographers during a November 2001 appearance in New York's Times Square. Jackson made his first ever in-store appearance to promote his new album "Invincible," which was released Oct. 30. "Invincible," at the time the most expensive album ever produced, fared better with critics and fans than 1995's "HIStory," but questions began to surface about the future of Jackson's career. (Brad Rickerby / Reuters/Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. One big mistake

    Michael Jackson holds a towel-covered Prince Michael II over the balcony of a Berlin hotel on Nov. 19, 2002. Jackson later called the incident a "terrible mistake," but the image of him dangling his baby son out a window shocked even many die-hard fans. And his reputation was to receive far worse damage just a few months later.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Tobias Schwarz / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Arresting development

    Michael Jackson is pictured in this Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department mug shot from Nov. 20, 2003. In a February 2003 documentary, Jackson acknowledged letting boys sleep in his bed. Soon after, Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon launched a probe into allegations that Jackson had molested a teen boy who appeared in the program. Authorities raided Neverland Ranch in November, and Jackson surrended for arrest days later.

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's D / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Family support

    Michael, center, and sisters LaToya, left and Janet Jackson walk over to greet fans during a lunch break at a pretrial hearing in Santa Maria, Calif., in this Aug. 16, 2004, file photo. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. MJ's PJs

    Michael Jackson wears pajama pants and is aided by bodyguards after arriving more than an hour late to court on Mar. 10, 2005, during his trial on the 2003 molestation charges. Jackson appeared after Judge Rodney Melville threatened to revoke his bail. (Kimberly White / pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Singin' with the kids

    Michael Jackson sings with some of his young fans at the World Music Awards at Earls Court in London on Nov. 16, 2006. (Graham Jepson / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Fans in uniform

    Michael Jackson receives a letter of appreciation from Col. Robert M. Waltemeyer, the garrison commander of Camp Zama, on March 10, 2007, in Zama, Japan. Michael greeted thousands of U.S. troops and their family members at the U.S. Army base. (U.S. Army via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Father figure

    Michael Jackson walks with kids Prince and Paris through a studio parking lot in Los Angeles in March 2009. The singer had been spotted with his entourage going to a studio on a cold rainy day in the city. The pop star stayed at the studio for more than two hours, and there were many production people working around him, suggesting that the star was filming. (Splash News / Splash News) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Concert tour planned

    Fans take pictures of an electronic screen projecting a press conference by Michael Jackson at the O2 arena in London on March 5, 2009. The pop megastar announced he would play a series of comeback concerts in London in July, his first major shows in more than a decade. (Ben Stansall / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Reaching for redemption

    Jackson, center, is shown in Los Angeles on May 6 during rehearsals for his planned concert tour in London. (Courtesy of Michael Jackson via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Happy to perform

    In this handout photo provided by AEG, Jackson rehearses for his planned shows in London at the Staples Center on Tuesday, June 23, in Los Angeles. It's a tragic loss — and an accounting nightmare for the promoters of Jackson's doomed 50-night "This Is It" concert extravaganza. More than 750,000 fans are waiting for details on ticket refunds, and the British government's consumer protection board told them June 29 not to hold their breath -- complex legal issues need to be worked out first. (Kevin Mazur / AEG via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. All the world's a stage

    "He was on the eve of potentially redeeming his career a little bit," Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde said of Jackson, shown rehearsing in Los Angeles on June 23. "People might have started to think of him again in a different light."

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Kevin Mazur / AEG via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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