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Image: Conrad Murray
Irfan Khan  /  AP file
Dr. Conrad Murray claims that he had been trying to wean Jackson off of the anesthetic propofol, which the pop icon had been using regularly to get to sleep.
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updated 9/30/2011 10:58:42 AM ET 2011-09-30T14:58:42

More than two years after Michael Jackson's death, the biggest question of all is about to be answered.

At least, we sure hope it's going to be answered.

Opening statements are set to begin Tuesday in the city of Los Angeles' involuntary manslaughter case against Dr. Conrad Murray, a Houston-based cardiologist who is accused of administering an overdose of a surgery-grade sedative that killed Jackson on June 25, 2009.

The trial is expected to last at least five weeks, but we'll have you fully informed in five minutes with our handy Jackson trial cheat sheet.

READ: Michael Jackson's Mom and Kids Nab $30 Million Payout

The Charges
Murray is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, which, in California, is an unlawful killing that takes place either during the commission of an unlawful non-felony act, or during the commission of a lawful act that involves a high risk of death or great bodily harm that is committed without due caution or circumspection. If convicted, Murray faces a maximum of four years in prison, the loss of his medical license, up to $10,000 in fines and formal probation. The doctor, who is currently barred from practicing medicine in California, has pleaded not guilty.

The Defendant
Murray had been employed for a short time as Jackson's personal physician, having been hired by AEG Live, which was producing Jackson's This Is It concert series, to the tune of $150,000 a month. After Jackson's death, Murray claimed that he hadn't yet been paid for any of his services. The doctor, who kept offices in Houston and Las Vegas, was revealed to be in dire financial straits and was behind on child support payments. Since his arrest in February 2010, Murray has been free on $75,000 bail and has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Story: Michael Jackson saw salvation in dangerous drug

The Defense
Murray claims that he had been trying to wean Jackson off of the anesthetic propofol, which the pop icon had been using regularly to get to sleep. Despite witness statements to the contrary, Murray says that only about 10 minutes passed between the time he discovered Jackson unconscious and the time he called 911. His legal camp, headed up by Texas-based counselor Edward Chernoff, is prepared to argue that Jackson injected himself with the fatal dose of propofol. In order to represent Murray, Chernoff took the California Bar Exam. His cocounsel are L.A.-based Michael Flanagan and Nareg Gourjian.

The Prosecution
Deputy District Attorneys David Walgren and Deborah Brazil, 16- and 15-year veterans of the L.A. County District Attorney's Office, will argue that Murray was negligent in his treatment of Jackson and that his carelessness and bad judgment resulted in the singer's death.

READ: Michael Jackson Tribute Lands Oscar-Winning Host

The Judge
L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, named Judge of the Year in 2007 by the L.A. County Bar Association, is one of only 10 judges in the entire Superior Court system designated to preside over "complex criminal litigation." He is allowing cameras in the courtroom and refused the defense's wish to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, calling it an unnecessary burden on the jurors. Just today, Pastor ruled that video of Jackson's final press conference will not be shown during the trial. Murray's attorneys had claimed that Jackson appeared to be "under the influence" in the video and was prepared to scale back his planned concert schedule from 50 to 10 dates.

The Jury
Seven men and five women have been sworn in, with Flanagan saying Friday, "It seems like a good jury panel." There are also five alternates. In deciding not to sequester them, Pastor noted that the jury would be subject to "very strict rules and regulations."

  • Fun Fact No. 1: When asked during selection if anyone was unfamiliar with Jackson or Murray or had not heard anything about the case, not one of the 100-plus potential jurors raised his or her hand.
  • Fun Fact No. 2: The prosecution used one of its 10 peremptory challenges on Connie Rice, a prominent L.A. civil rights attorney who has been vocally critical of the LAPD.

The Family
You may have heard of Michael Jackson's nearest, dearest and not-so-near-or-dear: Mother Katherine; father Joe; brothers Jermaine, Tito, Randy, Marlon and Jackie; sisters Janet and La Toya; and children Prince Michael, Paris Katherine and Prince Michael II. While the kids obviously haven't spoken out in public about such things, at least every Jackson older than 14 is gunning for justice.

  • "He killed him. He wasn't monitoring him," Katherine Jackson told reporters after Murray's arraignment last year.
  • Joe Jackson has sued Murray for wrongful death.
  • "Michael was murdered, and although he died at the hands of Dr. Conrad Murray, I believe Dr. Murray was a part of a much larger plan," was La Toya Jackson's opinion.
  • "I just feel like it took so long to arrest this guy," Jermaine complained last year.
  • "He was the one that was administering," Janet Jackson said of Murray in a 2009 interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts. "I think he is responsible." When asked this past February on TODAY if she still believed Murray was culpable, she replied, "Mmm-hmm. And that's all I'm going to say. I do. I really do."

READ: Jackson Family Clarifies 2005 "Plan" to Help Michael Jackson Flee the U.S. if Convicted

Witnesses
Walgren has said that he plans to call witnesses chronologically, starting with the those who were working with Jackson in the months before his death and ending with law-enforcement and medical experts who analyzed the aftermath. After opening statements have been made, first up will be choreographer and This Is It director Kenny Ortega, who testified at a previous hearing that Murray had advised him not to worry about Jackson's health. Ortega is expected to be followed by AEG Live's Paul Gongaware.

Also on the docket are Jackson bodyguard Alberto Alvarez and Las Vegas pharmacist Tom Lopez, who previously stated that he shipped large amounts of propofol — prescribed by Murray — to Jackson's home in the weeks leading up to his death. Jackson's eldest son and daughter, who were at home when life-saving efforts were made on their dad, are not on either side's list of potential witnesses. Otherwise, the entire Jackson family has made the prosecution's list.

E! Online will be livestreaming the trial, starting Tuesday at 8 a.m. PT

GALLERY: Court Appearances

© 2012 E! Entertainment Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Video: Jackson wasn’t addicted to Propofol, brother says

Photos: Michael Jackson’s life and career

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  1. Little boy 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; the five brothers from Indiana were signed to Berry Gordy's Motown record label pose in 1972. (Frank Barratt / Getty Images file) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. All in the family

    The Jackson 5 performs 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 Michael 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. (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. (Susan Phillips / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 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. (Corbis / Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Moment of stardom

    Michael Jackson performs the moonwalk 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. (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 epaulettes, 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. LONDON-1985: Michael Jackson is lead through a crowd by policeman on a promotionial tour of Great Britain in London.(Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)UK NEWSPAPERS OUT WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT FROM DAVE HOGAN. PLEASE CONTACT SALES TEAM WITH ENQUIRIES (Dave Hogan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 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
  14. 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. (Carlos Osorio / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. Black and white at the Super Bowl

    Michael Jackson gives a performance with 30,000 children during the Super Bowl XXVIII halftime show, on January 31, 1993, in Pasadena, Calif. Despite allegations against him, Jackson's career had regained momentum with hits like "Black or White" and "Remember the Time," and the "Dangerous" album was a multi-platinum seller. (Ralf-Finn Hestoft / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. 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
  19. Power marriage

    Michael Jackson and his 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
  20. Golden man

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

    Just months after his divorce from Lisa Marie, Michael Jackson walked back up 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. (Reuters / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Best of friends

    Michael Jackson and actress 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
  23. (FILES) Photo dated November 13, 2002 shows US entertainer Michael Jackson testifying 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
  24. Not so invincible

    Michael Jackson poses for photographers during a Nov. 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
  25. 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. (Tobias Schwarz / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. 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. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's D / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Family support

    Michael, center, and sisters LaToya, left and Janet Jackson walk over to greets 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. Reaching for redemption

    Jackson, center, is shown in Los Angeles on May 6 during rehearsals for his planned concert tour in London. "He was on the eve of potentially redeeming his career a little bit," said Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde. "People might have started to think of him again in a different light."

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog. (Courtesy of Michael Jackson via) Back to slideshow navigation
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