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OTRC: Conrad Murray trial: Jury is chosen

In this file photo, Dr. Conrad Murray arrives at his clinic in Houston on Nov. 23, 2009. (Pat Sullivan)

A jury has been chosen for the trial of Conrad Murray, accused of involuntary manslaughter over the death of Michael Jackson.

On Friday, September 23, seven men and five women were picked to be jurors. One of them, a male in his 50s, said he once met Jackson in the 1980s while working at Walt Disney Studios, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.

According to the 30-page questionnaires the jurors filled out before they were chosen, six of the members of the jury are white, five are Hispanic and one is African-American, the race of Murray and Jackson.

All the jurors are between the ages of about 40 to 60, except for one strawberry blond-haired, bearded white man, who seemed to be in his 30s.

Lawyers also selected six alternates - four white women and two men. They appeared to be in their 30s and 40s. The professions of the jurors and the alternates are diverse. One female alternate is a supervisor of managers in a customer care department of an insurance company. Another male alternate works in real estate.

Autopsy results have shown that Jackson, known as the King of Pop, died at age 50 at his Los Angeles on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives.

Murray was by the singer's side on the day he died and pleaded not guilty in January to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted. His lawyers say Jackson drank propofol while the doctor was away from his bedside.

Opening statements in the trial are due on September 27. The judge has said the trial will last until October 28.

Attorneys have in recent weeks poured through questionnaires filled out by a pool of 145 prospective jurors, who were asked about their knowledge of the case as well as about the doctor, Jackson, personal experience with propofol and other medications and histories of drug or alcohol abuses.

Most of the potential jurors were dismissed for reasons of personal hardship. On Friday, 118 prospective jurors, which included only a handful of people who appeared to be African-American, appeared in a courtroom before the judge to be questioned in person by Murray's attorneys and prosecutors.

Jackson appeared white in his later years. He suffered from the disorder vitiligo, which causes a discoloration of the skin. During a preliminary hearing of Murray's case in January, a coroner investigator said she found skin bleaching cream in Jackson's bedroom and a pharmacist said he shipped several tubes of it to the doctor.

Murray's lawyers want unbiased jurors who will try to reach a verdict based only on evidence presented in court and not from anything they hear on the outside, especially in the press, which has often dubbed Jackson "Wacko Jacko." The singer's 2003 child molestation case, in which he was found not guilty, made international headlines. The issue is not allowed to be referenced during Murray's trial.

One of the attorneys told reporters outside the court on Wednesday that they agreed to dismiss people who claimed they could not be fair and impartial in the trial, without revealing a number.

Murray, a cardiologist and surgeon, practiced medicine inside and outside of California in recent years. His medical license in the state was suspended earlier this year. Murray's licenses in Nevada and Texas remain intact but his criminal charges prompted local medical boards to issued restrictions that prohibits him from using or administering most anesthetic agents, including propofol.

Jury selection in Murray's trial began on September 8. The judge told prospective jurors that he wants them to "insulate" themselves when it comes to the case, despite the extensive media attention given to it.

Pastor had last month denied a bid by Murray's lawyers to try to have the jury sequestered, saying it is unrealistic to expect jurors to avoid hearing anything about the case outside of the court. He said he did not want to inconvenience jurors and make them feel like prisoners.

Pastor told prospective jurors on September 16 that they cannot discuss the proceedings with outsiders, including religious leaders or therapists. He said they are not allowed to read, listen or watch material about the case or write or talk about it online or via "telepathic communication," which drew some chuckles.

During the trial, jurors must eat all their meals in a secluded room and will not be allowed to roam the hallways of the courthouse. The judge has already made several rulings about what can and what cannot be presented during the trial.

A Norway study involving intravenous and rectal administration of propofol in piglets can be cited and is set to be used as basis for one expert's opinion on whether propofol would have any effect if ingested. Flanagan opposed the inclusion of the experiment, saying that it was not carried out on humans.

The judge has yet to rule on whether a Chile study of propofol that did involve human subjects can be mentioned during the proceedings.

Witnesses will not be allowed to testify about the King of Pop's 2005 child molestation case, during which the singer was found not guilty, a judge ruled on August 29, adding that such information is irrelevant to Murray's case and would be distracting and misleading for the jury.

The judge also posed more hurdles for Murray's attorneys. He said that Arnold Klein, Jackson's dermatologist, is not allowed to testify at the involuntary manslaughter trial.

Murray's attorneys had said that Klein had prescribed the painkiller Demerol to Jackson and that the singer was withdrawing from it at the time of his death. Prosecutors said the defense was trying to divert attention from Murray and pin the blame on Klein.

Others barred from testifying - a police detective who searched Jackson's Neverland Ranch while he was being investigated for child molestation, Grace Rwaramba, former nanny of the singer's children and Chris Carter, a former bodyguard.

Among those who will be allowed to testify at Murray's trial - Karen Faye, Jackson's makeup artist and hair stylist, who has said she became worried about the singer's health prior to his death, physicians David Adams and Allen Metzger and the King of Pop's nurse, Cherylin Lee.

Pastor ruled several months ago that jurors at Murray's trial will be allowed to see autopsy photos of Jackson.

NOTE: In addition to supplying you with breaking news reports, OnTheRedCarpet.com will provide a live stream of the Conrad Murray trial when it begins.

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