Jackson's Doctor Faces Preliminary Hearing

Dr. Conrad Murray could face four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.

Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011  |  Updated 12:54 PM PDT
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Images: Conrad Murray Preliminary Hearing

Dr. Conrad Murray appears in court.

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The doctor who was with Michael Jackson the day the pop star died was in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

A Los Angeles judge started hearing testimony Tuesday to help him decide if there is enough evidence for Dr. Conrad Murray to face trial.

Fans of Jackson were outside the LA counthouse as a choreographer testified about Jackson's condition prior to his death.

Choreographer Kenny Ortega was the last person to work with Jackson on his concert tour. He said Tuesday that Jackson seemed unwell and not in condition six days before he died and went home early from rehearsals at Ortega's suggestion.

Ortega said he was summoned the next morning to Jackson's home and told by Murray to not try to be Jackson's doctor or psychiatrist. Murray suggested Jackson should not have been sent home because he was physically and emotionally fine, Ortega testified.

Murray, a Houston cardiologist, is accused of gross negligence when he administered the powerful anesthetic Propofol to help Jackson get to sleep. Jackson died June 25, 2009, of Propofol intoxication complicated by other sedatives.

If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Murray could face four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.

A prosecutor opened Tuesday's proceedings by saying Jackson was already dead when his physician summoned help. Prosecutor David Walgren said evidence would show that Murray also tried to conceal his administering the powerful anesthetic propofol to the pop superstar, ordering a bodyguard to collect items before paramedics were called.

Prosecutors also said Murray failed to tell  paramedics and emergency room doctors that he had given the pop superstar a  powerful prescription sedative the day he died.

Joseph Low IV, an attorney for Murray, told the Los Angeles Times that he expects the judge to order his client to trial.

"I don't anticipate this is the type of case that the D.A. won't have facts to support the couple of elements necessary for this charge," he told the newspaper.

Murray has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer says nothing the doctor did should have harmed the superstar.

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