*A defense lawyer for Michael Jackson’s doctor said Wednesday the singer was so anguished about his deteriorating finances in his final days that he took desperate actions that caused his own death.
The statements by attorney Edward Chernoff came during a pretrial hearing in the case of Dr. Conrad Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death. Chernoff was asking to see Jackson’s financial records to prove a key defense theory, reports the AP.
“The crux of the defense is going to be that Michael Jackson engaged in a desperate act and took desperate measures that caused his death,” Chernoff told Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor. “We believe at the time Michael Jackson died he was a desperate man in relation to his financial affairs.”
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren accused the defense of trying to distract from the main issue of the trial — whether Murray acted with gross negligence when he gave Jackson the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives on the day he died..
“This is an irrelevant sideshow designed to take issues away from the jury and smear Michael Jackson,” Walgren said. “It has nothing to do with the case on which Dr. Murray is being prosecuted. ”
Attorney Howard Weitzman, representing the late singer’s estate, also opposed the request for financial records.
“Is the theory that Michael Jackson committed suicide, took his own life?” he said incredulously. “I don’t think that’s a salable theory.
The judge refused to grant the request.
“I’m not going to turn an involuntary manslaughter trial into some kind of an escapade in analysis of the finances in Michael Jackson’s entire life,” Pastor said. “Right now this is major deep sea fishing.”
Lawyers were ordered to return Thursday to continue screening prospective jurors through written questionnaires. Jury selection is scheduled to move into open court on May 4 and opening statements are expected on May 9.