Attorneys in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor peppered potential jurors with questions on Friday in a format one prosecutor likened to speed dating to seat a panel by day's end.
On the first day that potential jurors have been questioned directly in the long-awaited trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, one defense attorney asked potential panelists if the Thriller singer seemed particularly childlike during his adult life.
Deputy district attorney David Walgren compared the day's proceedings to speed-dating because Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor has limited the amount of time lawyers for both sides can question potential jurors.
Murray, Jackson's former physician, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death on June 25, 2009, at age 50.
Judge Pastor aims to seat a 12-person by the end of Friday to keep the trial on track for opening arguments that are expected to begin on Tuesday, September 27.
Friday's proceeding is the culmination of weeks of close scrutiny of the jury pool, because earlier this month 370 potential jurors completed a 30-page questionnaire. By midday, nearly 60 potential jurors remained in the courtroom for the final stage of jury selection.
Prosecutors said Murray caused Jackson's death by giving him the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid at the singer's Los Angeles mansion and not properly monitoring him.
Defense attorneys are expected to say Jackson administered a fatal dose himself while Murray was out of the room.
All the potential jurors have said they were familiar with the case, and on Friday some of them were asked to speak about their views of Jackson in open court.
One woman said she remembers him from his days as a singing child star with the Jackson 5 decades ago. Murray's attorney Ed Chernoff asked if she thought Jackson was particularly childlike as an adult. The woman said no.
Chernoff also asked potential jurors if they believed that, due to a childlike nature, Jackson was less able to make reasonable decisions.
Does anyone think Michael Jackson should be held to a different level of responsibility? Chernoff asked the potential panelists. None of them said Jackson should.
The answers to that question could be a key determining factor for Murray's attorneys if they seek to show the Thriller singer bore some responsibility for his own death, which medical examiners have said resulted from an overdose of propofol and sedatives.
Walgren presented an analogy to jurors of a drunken driver listening to music and hitting a pedestrian who was also not paying attention as he walked into the street.
That hypothetical appeared to be an attempt to elicit views of whether Murray or Jackson was most at fault. Jurors' responses varied, but some of them said the driver might be guilty if he bore some responsibility for the death.
Murray faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison if convicted.