USA Today offers a preview of the next big “celebrity trial” in the U.S., the involuntary manslaughter case of Michael Jackson’s physician, Conrad Murray. Opening statements are set for Sept. 27. The case raises the rare issue of a doctor’s criminal accountability when a patient dies under his care. And like Jackson’s trial in 2005 on charges of sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy — jurors declared him not guilty — the case will spotlight the privileged world of a superstar.
Prosecutor David Walgren says Murray, 58, caused the death of Jackson in 2009 through “negligent and reckless acts” — primarily an “extreme deviation” from medical-quality standards in using the operating-room anesthetic propofol to treat insomnia. Murray has said he employed the powerful drug at the famous insomniac’s repeated requests, as other doctors before him had done. Attorneys for Murray, a tall, dashing man born in the West Indian island nation of Grenada, have said Jackson was so frantic for sleep that he drank or injected a fatal dose of propofol while the doctor was briefly away from the singer’s bedroom. “Michael is going to be on trial,” says Brian Oxman, attorney for Jackson’s father, Joe, in a civil lawsuit against Murray.