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Michael Jackson death: Opening statements to begin Tuesday morning

Media gathers in the predawn hours Tuesday for the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray

Opening statements are scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in the highly anticipated trial of Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who is accused of administering a fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic propofol.

But Murray -- who arrived at the courthouse in a pinstriped, khaki suit and accompanied by his mother -- won't be the only person on trial. His attorneys plan to argue that blame should be pointed at the King of Pop himself.

Jackson, they will argue, was under immense financial pressure to succeed. Many were watching whether he could pull off a career comeback with the series of "This is It" concerts scheduled in London.

Live video: Full coverage of Conrad Murray's trial

Murray, 58, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, injecting Jackson with the propofol and leaving his bedside. Murray told police he gave Jackson the drug -- the singer referred to it as "milk" -- over a two-month period to help him sleep, even though it has no established use for insomnia. If convicted, Murray faces a four-year sentence and likely loss of his medical license.

The jury of seven men and five women are expected to hear five weeks of testimony, beginning with choreographer Kenny Ortega, co-director of the "This is It" concerts.

Ortega, best known for the films "Dirty Dancing" and "High School Musical," testified at a hearing earlier this year that Murray assured him that Jackson was healthy enough to perform and even scolded him for canceling rehearsals when Jackson seemed weak.

Prosecutors contend that at the time Murray brushed off Ortega and other concert executives, he was giving Jackson nightly doses of the surgical anesthetic on which the singer later overdosed. In comments to a judge Monday, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren said he planned to summon witnesses in a chronological order leading up to and then following Jackson's death.

As the trial begins Tuesday, the streets north of the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse are lined with satellite trucks and an overflow room has been set up to accommodate two dozen television and radio outlets from around the world.

Jackson's family including his parents and siblings Jermaine, Latoya, Randy and Janet, all arrived at the courthouse at about 8:30 a.m.

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-- Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan

Photo: Media gathers in the predawn hours Tuesday for the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray. Credit:  Reed Saxon / Associated Press

 
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