The more serious the crime, the more desperate the prosecution becomes to predict the defense’s strategy. It is the one area in which the defense has a bit of an advantage. In a very public homicide case, outside of Massachusetts, case, prosecutors seem to be floating “trial balloons” to force the defense to reveal its thoughts.
Dr. Conrad Murray (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) has been charged with the homicide of Michael Jackson. As you will recall, Mr. Jackson died at age 50 on June 25, 2009, of an overdose of prescription drugs, primarily the powerful anesthetic propofol which can be used in surgery. Other drugs in Jackson’s system included lorazepam, known under the brand names Ativan and Temesta, and diazepam, the generic version of Valium. It is alleged that the fatal dose was prescribed by the Defendant. The Defendant has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Last week, In a court session to discuss evidence in the case against the Defendant, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney David Walgren announced that he believes it is clear that defense attorneys are planning to claim that Mr. Jackson actually committed suicide.
When questioned about the prosecutor’s proclamation, defense counsel, J. Michael Flanagan, merely stated, “I’m not going to respond to that characterization. But apparently it is a consideration of Mr. Walgren,”
The Defendant hired as Jackson’s physician while the singer prepared for a series of concerts that would have begun in July 2009, has admitted giving Jackson propofol to help him sleep. But the Defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin tomorrow. At the hearing, the court is to decide if there is enough evidence against Murray to proceed to a full trial.
There will be.
Representatives for the prosecution and defense have predicted that they expect the preliminary hearing to begin as planned and take roughly two weeks to complete.
From The Trenches
As a former homicide prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney I have witnessed many cases in which the chosen defense is to blame the victim.
It seldom works.
This case has some unusual wrinkles, though, which might enable such a defense to strike a chord.
Unlike most decedents in homicide cases, Michael Jackson was well known to the public. He was also well known to be…to be kind…unusual in much of his lifestyle. The Defendant could use this public image to support the conclusion that Mr. Jackson was capable of almost anything.
However, this would still be very risky. First of all, Michael Jackson was, and is, beloved by the general populace and it is the general populace from which a jury is selected. Secondly, there are a number of factors that make the idea that Mr. Jackson was suicidal difficult to swallow.
First of all, he was in the final stages of preparing the concert series about which he was clearly excited. This, of course, is not left to speculation. One can witness the enthusiasm first hand through watching the movie of the preparation which was released shortly after his death, “This Is It!”.
Secondly, it would appear that Michael was not all that odd when it came to the love he had for his children. By all accounts, he was a loving father who had a close relationship with his kids…regardless of the innuendo that followed him like a cloud in previous years.
Of course, we do not really know what the defense will be in this case. It is the defense attorney, not the prosecuting attorney that decides such things.
The reason for the prosecutor’s statements was mostly as a trial balloon to see if defense counsel would bite and let him know what to expect.
It didn’t work. Experienced trial attorneys know better.
In the meantime, if you are facing trial for criminal charges, I do hope you have an experienced criminal defense attorney. Better to pay up front for such protection with money than pay later with years. If you would like to discuss such a matter with me, please feel to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
To view the original story in which parts of this blog were based, please go to : http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6BT05I20101230
REMINDER: Yes, as I promised, eye patch or no eye patch, Attorney Sam’s Take has now returned to daily postings. Watch for other changes to come to this once-more daily blog!. Happy new year and, as always, thanks for reading! SBG