Search for jury extended in case of Jackson doctor

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2011 8:10 PM
Search for jury extended in case of Jackson doctor

A judge concerned about finding enough jurors for the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor extended the search Friday, even after clearing 147 people who said they could spare the time for the anticipated two-month case.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor took the action after more than half of the 340 prospective jurors summoned Thursday for the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray were excused for hardships related to the length of the trial.

Pastor also suggested to lawyers in his chambers that an initial glance at jury questionnaires indicated many candidates might have to be eliminated because of strong views on the issues involved in the case.

Only three of the people in the first jury pool indicated they didn't know anything about the case.

The trial of Murray, a Houston cardiologist who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, is expected to draw worldwide attention.

Friday, Pastor emerged from a second day of meetings with lawyers in his chambers to screen written hardship forms and said, "I have to conclude we simply do not have a sufficient number of prescreened jurors. We do need an additional day of hardship screening."

Pastor ordered another pool of prospective jurors to be summoned for April 7. In-person jury selection is set for May 4. The judge told prospects to expect to serve until July 1.

Murray is accused of gross negligence in the death of the pop superstar who died of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol complicated by other sedatives.

The 50-year-old Jackson had been using propofol as a sleeping aid, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing earlier this year. The drug is not intended for home use and is usually given for surgery.

The doctor was introduced to prospective jurors and bid them good morning before they filled out their questionnaires. They showed no reaction and appeared to know beforehand which case they had been called for.