Entertainment & Arts

Michael Jackson judge bars skin doctor from testifying

Michael Jackson, shown in March 2009
Image caption Jackson died shortly before his 50-date run of comeback concerts in London

The judge in the forthcoming trial of Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray has barred the singer's dermatologist from giving evidence.

Dr Murray's lawyers had wanted to argue that Arnold Klein injected Jackson with the painkiller demerol "for no valid medical purpose" and that the star became addicted to the drug.

The judge said it was "not relevant".

The defence plan to portray Jackson as an addict who may have given himself a lethal dose of the drug propofol.

Dr Murray, who was hired by Jackson to help prepare for his planned July 2009 comeback concerts at London's O2 arena, was in charge of administering the anaesthetic to the star.

He has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Neverland raid

In court in Los Angeles on Monday, Dr Murray's lawyer Edward Chernoff said the defence's position was that Jackson was addicted to demerol and was withdrawing from it when he died in June 2009.

But Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled that Arnold Klein would not be called to testify after prosecution lawyers said the defence wanted to transfer responsibility for Jackson's death to the dermatologist.

Prosecution lawyer David Walgren also said Jackson's autopsy found no traces of demerol.

Image caption Dr Conrad Murray faces up to four years in prison if convicted

The judge also barred the defence from calling five of Jackson's other former doctors to give evidence.

But he allowed them to call Allen Metzger - who had treated Jackson for two decades - and anaesthetist David Adams.

Jackson had asked Mr Metzger for intravenous medicines to help him sleep two months before his death but the doctor had refused his request, defence lawyers say.

And Mr Adams had given propofol to the singer on a number of occasions after dental work.

A nurse who treated Jackson in 2009 will also be allowed to testify.

Meanwhile, Judge Pastor has also ruled the defence cannot call any witnesses to testify about Jackson's 2005 trial and acquittal over child abuse charges, saying it would distract the jury.

And he also refused a request to bring up a 2003 raid of the singer's Neverland Ranch in California in which defence lawyers say propofol was found.

Jury selection for the trial is due to begin on 8 September with opening arguments due to begin on 27 September.

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