Judge Orders Michael Jackson’s Doctor to Stand Trial

 A judge on Tuesday ordered the personal physician of Michael Jackson to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter after hearing testimony that he administered a dose of a powerful anesthetic and other sedatives then left the pop star alone.

The ruling in the case against Houston cardiologist Dr. Conrad Murray came after a six-day preliminary hearing before Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor.

Prosecutors concluded their case with testimony from two doctors who said Murray acted outside the standard of medical care when he administered the anesthetic propofol and failed to provide proper care.

Both witnesses said that even if Jackson had self-administered the final dose of the drug, his death would be a homicide because of Murray’s inadequate care.

Murray’s defense attorney Ed Chernoff and prosecutors declined comment on the ruling.

Murray, 57, has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys have said he did not give Jackson anything that should have killed him. Murray could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

Pastor also granted a request by the California Medical Board to suspend Murray’s license to practice medicine in the state. Pastor said he made the decision in the interest of public safety and ordered Murray to notify every district in which he practices of the decision within 24 hours. Murray has clinics in Houston and Las Vegas.

During closing arguments at the preliminary hearing, another defense attorney, Joseph Low IV, argued the case should be dismissed because prosecutors didn’t adequately prove how Murray caused Jackson’s death.

One of the final witnesses Tuesday was Dr. Christopher Rogers, chief of forensic medicine for the Los Angeles County coroner.  During his cross-examination, defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan suggested Jackson could have swallowed propofol, which is meant to be administered intravenously.  Flanagan’s inquiry was the first indication of how his lawyers might defend Murray at trial. Flanagan has suggested Jackson could have injected himself intravenously while Murray was out of the room.

Another witness, Dr. Richard Ruffalo, an anesthesiologist and clinical pharmacologist, gave the judge an exhaustive rundown on the sophisticated medical equipment that should have been present when Murray administered propofol in Jackson’s bedroom.  Among the devices were monitoring equipment for heart and lungs and resuscitation equipment.

Prosecutors used testimony and phone records to create a timeline during the hearing of Jackson’s final hours.  Police Detective Orlando Martinez said Murray told him he found Jackson not breathing just after 11 a.m. on June 25, 2009. But phone records showed 911 was not called until 12:21 p.m.  Paramedics and an emergency room doctor all testified they thought Jackson died in his bedroom. 

Defense attorneys rarely call witnesses or present their own theories during preliminary hearings, which have a lower standard of proof than criminal trials.

Prosecutors said they expect the defense to claim Jackson administered the deadly dose himself while Murray was out of the room.

Created from Associated Press Article