LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Gruesome photos of Michael Jackson’s autopsy should not be shown to the jury in the involuntary manslaughter trial of the pop singer’s doctor, defense attorneys argued in court papers released on Thursday.
Showing the pictures of the “Thriller” singer’s autopsy risk jeopardizing the trial in May of Dr. Conrad Murray, they said. Murray is charged with inadvertently causing Jackson’s June 2009 death by giving him the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid, as well as other sedatives.
“These photographs are graphic, gruesome and highly prejudicial,” Murray’s attorneys wrote in the court papers.
They argued that “admission of these photographs to the jurors will jeopardize Dr. Murray’s right to a fair trial because of the significant risk that the jury will base their decision not on the evidence presented, but on emotional grounds which play no part in a criminal action.”
Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Opening arguments in the trial are scheduled for May 9. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor is expected to rule later this month on the defense request.
Jackson, 50, chose Murray as his personal physician as he rehearsed for a series of comeback concerts in London.
Murray’s lawyers also want references to Murray’s trips to strip clubs, where he met at least one woman with whom he had an affair, to be excluded from evidence at the trial.
Murray’s attorneys, Ed Chernoff and Nareg Gourjian, argued that, “there is absolutely no relevance whatsoever to all of this sexually scandalous information.”
Jury selection for the trial has been underway for more than two weeks.
A 29-page questionnaire, publicly released on Thursday, asks potential jurors if they are fans of Jackson or his family. It also asks whether they know anyone with addiction to prescription medication; if they think celebrities are treated differently in the court system; and if they are familiar with the anesthetic propofol and other medications.
Murray’s attorneys have suggested in previous court hearings that Jackson had grown dependent on propofol, and plan to argue at trial that the singer administered the fatal dose of the anesthetic to himself.
Murray faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
Editing by Jill Serjeant