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Jury to see Jackson autopsy photos at doctor trial


Doctor Conrad Murray, the late Michael Jackson's personal physician, speaks during his arraignment on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star's death, in Los Angeles, California, January 25, 2011. REUTERS/Pool/Irfan Khan
Doctor Conrad Murray, the late Michael Jackson's personal physician, speaks during his arraignment on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star's death, in Los Angeles, California, January 25, 2011. REUTERS/Pool/Irfan Khan

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The jury in the upcoming trial of Michael Jackson's personal doctor will be allowed to see autopsy photos of the "King of Pop," a Los Angeles judge ruled on Thursday.

Jackson, 50, is fully clothed in one of photos and nude in the other one. Prosecutors in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray want to show the pictures to demonstrate the singer was healthy at the time of his death.

Murray's defense team had objected to jurors seeing the autopsy pictures, which they called "gruesome" and bound to produce emotional reactions.

"They're not gruesome. They're not graphic. They're not inflammatory," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said of the autopsy photographs.

The ruling came two weeks before opening statements due on May 9 in the trial of Murray, the personal physician for Jackson who was with the "Thriller" singer when he died.

Murray has denied he caused Jackson's death on June 25, 2009, by giving him the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid combined with a number of sedatives.

Pastor also ruled in favor of a prosecution request to play video clips from the last two days of Jackson's stage rehearsals. The clips show Jackson rehearsing the songs "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Earth Song". Some of the rehearsal footage was turned into the posthumous hit film "This Is It."

The judge said the footage of Jackson was "relevant as to his demeanor." Murray's attorneys had argued that the rehearsal footage was edited and misleading.

Deputy district attorney David Walgren said he wanted the jurors to see the clips because they show Jackson as an "energetic" man who "fully intends in participating in this tour (and) fully intends on living out his life."

Jackson at the time was days away from beginning a series of comeback concerts in London.

Pastor said he will also allow testimony from women with whom prosecutors say Murray, who was married at the time, had a "personal and social relationship." But the judge did not want jurors to hear about Murray meeting two of the women at strip clubs.

The judge also ruled against a defense request to delve into Jackson's troubled finances and numerous lawsuits against him. Pastor said he did not want the trial to become a "salacious analysis of personal financial issues."

Murray faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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