Conrad Murray Trial: What is there to try?

Posted on Mar 31, 2013 in Blog

Unlike most criminal trials, there are very few issues remaining in the homicide trial of Conrad Murray, the late pop superstar Michael Jackson’s physician, scheduled to commence on September 27, 2011 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Dr. Murray is being charged criminally for Involuntary Manslaughter for the death of Michael Jackson. Under California law, the prosecutors must prove that Dr. Murray committed an “unlawful act” (but not a felony) or a lawful act with a “risk of great bodily harm committed carelessly.” The prosecutors allege that Dr. Murray sedated Jackson with the highly risky drug propofol to help Jackson fall asleep even though propofol is administered intravenously to sedate surgical patients in an extremely controlled environment. They further assert that it is careless to administer the drug without very close supervision, which can result in the risk of “great bodily harm.”

While in most criminal cases there are several issues to be tried, the defense has already conceded some very material issues. First, it appears that the defense team will concede that the administration of propofol was the cause of Jackson’s death. The defense is further conceding that Dr. Murray was the physician who prescribed the propofol to Jackson. Third, the defense is conceding, as it must, that Murray had administered propofol to Jackson on prior occasions to help Jackson fall asleep. The main issue in contention, according to the defense, is who administered the propofol to Jackson (which caused his death) and how that propofol was administered. Specifically, the defense is preparing to assert that, for some unknown reason, on the final day of his life, Jackson decided to intravenously self-administer propofol. Through the use of fact witnesses and medical experts, they will try to create “reasonable doubt” by asserting that Jackson, in so doing, administered a fatal overdose to himself. How that will be proven is the big question in this criminal trial.

If the defense is able to raise that reasonable question, then the single issue to be deliberated by the jury will be whether Dr. Murray can be convicted for the crime, using the “careless” standard, if all he did was provide the drug to Jackson. Even though the case has yet to begin, in light of the status of Jackson and the dynamics of this single issue, the trial may very well turn out to be an even larger courtroom drama than the recent trial of should I post Casey Anthony. Stay tuned, or should I say, “buckle your seatbelt.” This should be an interesting and entertaining ride.

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