Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor has delayed the high-profile manslaughter trial of pop star Michael Jackson's doctor Dr. Conrad Murray until September in the interest of justice.
Last week, the doctor's defense lawyer team has sought delay in the trial so that they have more time to prepare for cross-examining new prosecution witnesses.
Michael Jackson, 50, died on June 25, 2009 at his rented home in Los Angeles from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic drug propofol, according to autopsy reports. The pop star died just weeks before his much-anticipated This Is It comeback tour was scheduled to kick off.
Murray, a cardiologist, was hired as Jackson's personal physician while the pop star prepared for his comeback tour. He became the prime suspect after the Thriller singer died and was subsequently accused of gross negligence for administering Jackson an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives, which led to the pop star's death by heart failure.
Later, the doctor was charged with involuntary manslaughter of the pop star.
However, the doctor has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers claim Jackson swallowed and/or injected the lethal dose of propofol by himself.
Murray has admitted that he gave Jackson propofol as a sleep aid while he rehearsed for the comeback tour. However, the doctor has vehemently denied that it was a fatal overdose and has suggested that Jackson himself had swallowed the drug. The defense lawyers, led by Ed Chernoff, suggest Jackson was frustrated and desperate for sleep so that he could be ready for rehearsals for his comeback tour and so he drank or injected himself with the drug when Murray was away.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, claim it is impossible that Jackson had swallowed the drug and want to call new expert witnesses at the trial to counter Murray's suggestion. One such witness is Dr. Steven Shafer, an anesthesiologist, who says there is no way Jackson could have ingested the fatal dose of propofol himself.
Dr. Shafer says categorically, it's not possible Michael Jackson orally ingested propofol, based on the science, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren told Judge Pastor last Friday.
Murray's lawyers, led by Ed Chernoff, also claim Jackson was sick and weak even before June 25, thereby suggesting that it really wasn't the propofol that killed him.
TMZ has reported that Murray's lawyers have subpoenaed Sony for the raw video footage from the This Is It rehearsals to show the jury that Jackson's health was frail even before June 25.
However, prosecutors say Jackson was healthy and fit just before he died.
On Monday, Judge Pastor said that even though he was keenly aware of and sensitive to judicial economy in these hard times, the delay was absolutely mandated as My fundamental concern is fundamental fairness, he said.
The delay was in the interest of justice...that the parties be fully prepared, the judge said.
Murray gave up his right to a speedy trial at Monday's hearing. The prosecutors did not object to the request for delay. If found guilty, the doctor faces up to four years in prison.
Meanwhile, here's a video clip on Jackson's final rehearsal for This Is It comeback tour - just 2 days before he died. Does Michael Jackson look sick to you?