Judge: No sequestering Jackson manslaughter jury

August 25, 2011 - 1:50 PM
Michael Jackson Doctor

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2011 file photo, Dr. Conrad Murray, singer Michael Jackson’s personal physician, appears in Los Angeles Superior Court where Murray pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star’s 2009 death.A Los Angeles judge heard arguments Thursday on whether to sequester jurors hearing an involuntary manslaughter case against the pop singer's personal physician. (AP Photo/Irfan Khan, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jurors in the upcoming involuntary manslaughter trial of a doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death will not be sequestered, a judge ruled Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said it was not a close call about whether he thought jurors hearing the case should be kept from their daily lives during the four- to six-week trial.

Attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray had argued that sequestration is the only way to ensure a fair trial. Attorney Ed Chernoff said that if a case involving the death of the King of Pop didn't justify sequestration, then there likely isn't another case in which it's warranted.

Defense attorneys have cited widespread media coverage of the case and the likelihood that TV commentators such as Nancy Grace will cover the trial daily as reasons the jury should be protected.

Pastor said he trusted jurors to heed his admonitions about reading or listening to news reports about the case. He said cost did not factor into his decision, although he said one estimate of the cost of sequestering jurors during the trial was more than $500,000.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Sept. 8 and opening statements are slated for Sept. 27.

Murray faces four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Authorities have accused him of administering a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of Jackson's rented mansion on June 25, 2009.

Pastor has noted that a jury hasn't been sequestered in Los Angeles since the O.J. Simpson murder trial.