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.
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, Times of India reports.
Lawyers for Murray have maintained his innocence all along, saying he did not do anything that "should have" caused the 50-year-old pop icon's death. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office determined that Jackson died of an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol mixed with a cocktail of other sedatives.
Murray has admitted to administering propofol to Jackson in the hours before the singer's death, but the defense appears to be gearing up to claim that it was Jackson who administered the final, fatal dose of the drug after he woke in a panic from a fitful night of sleep, MTV informs.