Investigators next up in Jackson manslaughter case

October 5, 2011 - 11:50 AM
Michael Jackson-Doctor

Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court during his trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. Murray has pleaded not guilty and faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death. (AP Photo/Mario Anzuoni, Pool)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The involuntary manslaughter trial of the doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death is moving into its "CSI" phase, with jurors set to hear next from investigators and detectives.

The panel also will hear from Dr. Conrad Murray, himself, though it will be through a more than two-hour interview that police conducted with the Houston-based cardiologist two days after Jackson's June 2009 death.

The exact order of the witnesses is unclear, but court transcripts of discussions between the judge and lawyers from both sides Tuesday show that prosecutors are entering the next stage of the trial — furthering their case against Murray through the recollections of people who investigated him.

Murray has pleaded not guilty in the case. He faces up to four years behind bars and the loss of his medical license if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Authorities contend he gave the singer a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in Jackson's bedroom. Murray's attorneys say that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose.

The prosecution had been prepared Tuesday afternoon to call a police detective who would introduce the interview with Murray, which is expected to be played in its entirety for jurors. Defense attorneys said they needed more time to prepare for the witness, prompting the judge to send the trial into recess early and instruct prosecutors to call other witnesses to give Murray's lawyers opportunity to get ready.

Lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff hinted at a sidebar conference that the next witness may now be Stephen Marx, a forensic computer examiner for the Drug Enforcement Agency who analyzed Murray's iPhone. At a preliminary hearing earlier this year, Marx talked about emails he was able to retrieve from the phone, but in upcoming testimony he is likely to talk about a much more dramatic find.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said in opening statements that investigators were able to extract a recording of Jackson talking to Murray from the physician's iPhone. The audio of Jackson speaking slowly and slurring his speech was one of the previously unknown pieces of evidence prosecutors are using against the doctor.

Statements and items shown to jurors during opening remarks are not evidence until someone testifies about them.

Other investigators from the coroner's office will be called during the remainder of the trial to talk about Jackson's autopsy and toxicology findings that led to the determination that the singer died from acute propofol intoxication and the effects of the sedatives.

Prosecutors plan to call their main expert on propofol Tuesday, according to the transcripts.

The investigators come seven days into the government's case against Murray, which has featured dramatic testimony about the frantic efforts to revive Jackson. In the past two days, jurors have heard in rapid-fire succession from witnesses who called or texted Murray in the hours before Jackson's death.

The witnesses included several of the doctor's mistresses and his current girlfriend, Nicole Alvarez, who received shipments of propofol at her apartment on Murray's behalf but said she never knew what he was being sent.

Another woman, Sade Anding, told jurors that Murray called her at 11:51 a.m. on the day Jackson died, but stopped paying attention to her during the call. Murray's phone sounded like it had been shoved in a pocket.

"I pressed the phone to my ear and I heard mumbling and voices. Like the phone was in his pocket. I heard coughing," she said.

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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP