It's been more than two years since Michael Jackson's death shocked the world on the eve of the pop icon's planned comeback tour. In the time since, the focus has turned to the King of Pop's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who officials claim administered the lethal combination of sedatives that ended Jackson's life at age 50.
On Thursday (September 8), jury selection began in Los Angeles in Murray's manslaughter trial, which promises to grab headlines for the next month as prosecutors aim to pin the "Thriller" singer's death on a series of actions Murray allegedly took in the hours before Jackson's passing.
No cameras will be allowed inside the courtroom for the trial, which will begin as soon as 12 impartial jurors can be found, a task that will likely be challenging given the worldwide attention Jackson's death generated.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009, after suffering cardiac arrest at his rented Hollywood mansion. The Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled that the 50-year-old singer died of "acute propofol intoxication" in combination with the use of sedatives. Authorities have claimed that cardiologist Murray administered a lethal dose of the surgical anesthetic to chronic insomniac Jackson in an attempt to help him get to sleep. Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter last February in connection with Jackson's death and has pleaded not guilty in the case. The doctor is out on $75,000 bail and faces up to four years in prison and the revocation of his medical license if convicted.
After taking care of Jackson and the singer's children in his hometown of Las Vegas, Murray was hired by the pop star to be his personal physician in the lead-up to a series of 50 comeback shows at the O2 Arena in London dubbed This Is It. Murray was by Jackson's side the night he died and has admitted to administering several doses of propofol and other sedatives to his client, but his lawyers have said that the physician did not give the fatal push of medication.
Instead, they reportedly are planning to argue that Jackson — a chronic insomniac who was allegedly addicted to a deadly cocktail of strong sedatives in order to get rest — gave himself the final dose while Murray was out of the room.
According to a Reuters report, in the first three days of the oft-delayed trial more than 480 potential jurors will be brought through the court house. They will be given a 30-page, 117-question survey seeking their past experience with prescription drugs, doctors, celebrities, news outlets, law enforcement and queries about their DVD collections, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Among the questions on an earlier version of the questionnaire: "Have you ever considered yourself a fan of Michael Jackson or the Jackson family?," "Did you ever watch [the Jackson documentary] 'This Is It'?" and "What Internet sites or blogs, if any, do you visit on a regular basis?"
The pool will be cut down to 100 potential jurors who will return for more questioning later this month. The trial is expected to last five weeks, with opening arguments set for September 27.