Jury selected for Jackson doctor's trial

Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:38pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A 12-person jury was selected on Friday to hear the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's former doctor in a process one prosecutor likened to "speed dating."

The panel of seven men and five women includes one man who said he briefly met Jackson when he worked at Walt Disney Co in the 1980s and the singer was starring in a "Captain EO" film that was a Disney theme park attraction. That juror told attorneys he could approach the trial fairly.

The jurors have a wide range of professions, including a bookseller, school bus driver, paralegal and professor, according to questionnaires released after the selection.

Half of the panelists selected were Caucasian and five were Hispanic. The panel also includes one African American juror. Jackson was black and so is the defendant, Dr. Conrad Murray.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor limited the amount of time lawyers for both sides could question potential jurors on Friday, when the first day of direct questioning began. He aimed to seat the panel quickly and stay on track to begin the trial's opening arguments on Tuesday.

Friday's proceeding is the culmination of weeks of close scrutiny of the jury pool. Earlier this month 370 potential jurors completed a 30-page questionnaire, beginning the process of narrowing the pool to the 12 people now selected.

Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the "Thriller" singer's death on June 25, 2009, at age 50.

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.   Continued...

<p>Activist Najee Ali holds a poster with photos of late pop star Michael Jackson outside the Criminal Courts building in Los Angeles, California as jury selection begins in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray September 8, 2011. REUTERS/David McNew</p>