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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson's doctor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop superstar's death as the case moved rapidly toward a trial that will likely be televised.
"Your honor, I am an innocent man," Dr. Conrad Murray told Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor in a soft voice. "I definitely plead not guilty."
Lawyers for Murray, who is accused of giving Jackson a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives, said they would be ready to go to trial within the 60-day statutory time limit, which would make for an unusually speedy trial.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said the prosecution would be ready to go as well for the trial he estimated would last six weeks. The judge scheduled the trial to begin March 28 and set a pretrial hearing for Feb. 7.
"Dr. Murray is looking forward to finally telling his side of the story," defense attorney Ed Chernoff said outside court.
Asked why the defense wants to begin the trial so quickly, Chernoff said, "Dr. Murray has been waiting 22 months for his opportunity to do this. It's the first chance we have to force the issue."
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