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Jury will not be sequestered during Jackson doctor hearing

Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court at his arraignment at Superior Court in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court at his arraignment at Superior Court in Los Angeles, California.
Ifran Kahn/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Jackson's doctor's request for a sequestered jury during his upcoming trial has been denied by a L.A. judge. Dr. Conrad Murray has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson.

I do not find sequestration to be the answer in this case," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor told attorneys in the case of Dr. Conrad Murray. "If this were a close call, I would unhesitatingly order
sequestration ...''

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

Defense lawyers Edward Chernoff and Nareg Gourjian wrote in a motion filed last week that "there is reasonable expectation that Dr. Murray's trial will be the most publicized in history.''

Chernoff told the judge that it may be the most publicized case he will ever have in his courtroom and said he believed sequestration was the only way his client could have a fair trial.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren countered that the prosecution did not feel that sequestration was necessary.

"We feel at some point there has to be a level of trust granted to jurors,'' the prosecutor said.

The judge noted that he will admonish jurors, who will be chosen next month, "to take the high road'' and instruct them "in the strongest terms'' about what they can and cannot do during the trial, which is expected to last four to five weeks.

"I expect that the jurors will follow the high road,'' Pastor said, noting that sequestration is a process in which jurors in other cases have said they feel like inmates and cannot speak to loved ones without having their conversations monitored by law enforcement.

Jurors will be eating their meals and snacks in the jury room to avoid exposure to the public during the court day, the judge said.

Pastor, who had said at a July 20 hearing that he did not think sequestration was necessary, also stood firm on allowing a TV camera in the courtroom for the trial.

Jury selection is set to begin Sept. 8, when prospective jurors will be asked to fill out extensive questionnaires detailing what they know about the already much-publicized case. Opening statements are tentatively set for Sept. 27.

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50 of propofol intoxication while preparing for a series of concerts.

Murray, 58, is accused of administering the powerful anesthetic to the singer to help him fall asleep, then failing to properly monitor him.

The defense has suggested that Jackson could have given himself a larger dose of propofol while the doctor was out of the singer's bedroom in a rented Holmby Hills home.

AP contributed to this story