Los Angeles, Feb 9, (DPA): Conrad Murray, the personal physician of Michael Jackson, pleaded not guilty before a Los Angeles court after being charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the singer's death.
If convicted Murray, the last person to see the 'King of Pop' alive on June 25, faces possible maximum four-year in prison.
The doctor, who appeared before the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz to deny killing Jackson, was released on bail at a surety of USD 75,000, three times the standard for involuntary manslaughter cases.
Murray, 56, remained silent throughout the hearing, other than to answer "yes" several times when the judge asked if he understood the terms of his bail and the rights he waived. At the conclusion of the hearing, Murray was taken into custody by sheriff's deputies and escorted from the courtroom.
A statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said that Murray "did unlawfully, and without malice, kill Michael Joseph Jackson...in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony; and in the commission of a lawful act which might have produced death, in an unlawful manner, and without due caution and circumspection."
The prosecutors have to prove that the doctor was criminally negligent when he gave Jackson, 50, the powerful anesthetic propofol shortly before his death. The next hearing in the case is on April 5.
The coroners report in August said that Jackson's death was caused by a mix of painkillers and sedatives, but mainly due to propofol. The case of manslaughter was built over a long period of time with bottles of propofol being found in the doctor's bag and on the bedside table of the singer's home.
Murray has acknowledged giving propofol to Jackson to the investigators. Propofol is a potent anesthetic used to render patients unconscious before major surgery.
Through his attorney, Murray has maintained his innocence and said he did nothing that should have caused Jackson's death. In his only public comment, a one-minute video released in August through his lawyer, Murray had expressed confidence that he would be exonerated.
However, Jackson family's attorney, Brian Oxman, previously said that the charge of involuntary manslaughter was insufficient. Jackson's parents, Kathryn and Joe, and his siblings LaToya, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Randy were all present in court.
Murray started working for the pop singer in May. It was a time when Jackson was trying to revive his career after it hit a low period owing to child molestation charges from which he was eventually acquitted. Jackson was preparing for a comeback concert 'This Is I't at the O2 theater in London when he died at the age of 50 on June 25.