*With lawyers raising a new theory involving money and its role in Michael Jackson’s death, a judge is summoning a third panel of prospective jurors for the involuntary manslaughter case against Dr. Conrad Murray, reports the AP.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, who has already screened 340 prospects and cleared 147 of those for availability, has said a larger pool is needed from which 12 jurors and six alternates will be chosen.
The judge, who has seen some of the answers to questionnaires from those who have the time to serve, indicated many prospects will have to be eliminated because they hold strong views on the highly publicized case. Only three of the initial pool said they hadn’t heard about the upcoming trial.
After this initial phase, prospects who remain will be questioned in person beginning May 4. Pastor has set opening statements for May 9.
As previously reported, defense lawyers on Wednesday disclosed a new component of their case — a claim that Jackson was on the brink of financial ruin and feared he would be unable to fulfill his commitment to a concert tour because of severe insomnia.
Attorney Edward Chernoff posed the theory that Jackson was so distraught over his inability to sleep that he took “desperate measures.”
Defense lawyers previously suggested the pop star might have self-administered an overdose of the anesthetic propofol while Murray was away from his side.
Chernoff’s attempt to see Jackson’s financial records was blocked by Judge Pastor, who said he would not allow such a “deep sea fishing” expedition.
“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.