Michael Jackson Doctor’s Pre-Trial Set for 2011

The manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray slated to begin almost a year and a half after Jackson’s death

Last Updated: October 21, 2010 @ 2:52 PM

Conrad Murray is finally getting his day in court, but it won't be until 2011 — some 19 months after Michael Jackson died of prescription medication overdose under his care.

Judge Michael Pastor set Jan. 4, 2011, as the preliminary hearing date in Murray’s manslaughter trial. Pastor made the announcement in front of Murray, who was in court Monday morning in a brown suit and red tie.

Sitting at the defense table, Murray seemed to actively avoid the gaze of Joe and Katherine Jackson, Michael's parents, who were also present. The hearing lasted a mere 20 minutes.

A late October status hearing was also set in anticipation of Murray's preliminary hearing. The January preliminary hearing is a virtual mini-trial to determine whether there's enough evidence to move forward.

As they’ve done in the past, a large contingent of Michael’s admirers — easily in the hundreds — and followers showed up at the downtown courthouse, including some who said they came from as far as Russia. They’ll have plenty of chances to air their grievances next year, as the actual trial is expected to stretch deep into 2011.

Murray pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter back in February. If found guilty, he could face up to four years in prison.

At that Feb. hearing, Judge Keith Schwartz stopped Murray's ability to administer certain sedatives like Propofol directly to patients in the states of California, Texas and Nevada. Propofol has been cited as the principal cause of Jackson’s death last June, though a number of medications were found at his rented Los Angeles home.

Murray has continued his practice in Texas and Nevada, and has successfully fought off attempts by the state medical board to have his medical license removed. In a June 14 hearing, Judge Pastor ruled that he lacked the authority to take Murray’s license away.

Since the last time Murray appeared in court, the case has seen the first anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death pass on June 25, his estate bring in a billion dollars in revenue from the hit “This Is It” concert documentary and various licensing deals.

Also Since the June 14 hearing, Joe Jackson filed a wrongful death civil suit against the doctor. The senior Jackson, who was left nothing in Michael’s will, also ceased his action against the estate of his son for a monthly allowance.

Additionally, the California Attorney General’s office dismissed drug charges against seven other doctors who treated the singer, leaving Murray the only individual in the case now before the courts.

At least one Jackson thinks that the state of affairs is, in the words of Michael’s brother, Jermaine, “bulls—t.”

That’s what the elder Jackson 5 member said when leaving the June 14th hearing, adding: "Dr. Murray's the fall guy.”