Los Angeles: Michael Jackson`s former personal physician pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of the former King of Pop in 2009.
"Your Honour, I`m an innocent man," cardiologist Conrad Murray, 57, told Los Angeles Judge Michael Pastor when asked for his plea. "Therefore I plead not guilty."
His trial is due to begin March 28, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Pastor ruled earlier this month that there was enough evidence against Murray for him to stand trial, after six days of hearings in which the prosecutor presented evidence that Murray veered drastically from standard medical procedure in his treatment of Jackson, who died in June 2009 from an accidental overdose of the hospital grade anesthetic propofol mixed with other drugs.
Murray was the personal physician hired to care for Jackson through his comeback tour. According to witnesses called by the prosecution, Murray tried to hide evidence of Jackson`s propofol use, failed to monitor the singer`s condition, delayed calling for help, ordered hundreds of vials of the drug for Jackson`s use and failed to tell emergency room doctors that Jackson had taken the powerful sedative as a sleeping aid.
Murray`s lawyers are expected to argue in court that Jackson injected or drank a fatal amount of the drug while the doctor was not looking. The case is expected to last two months, and Pastor indicated that he is inclined to allow television coverage of the proceedings.