Judge suspends his licence to practise medicine in California

A judge has dealt the doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death two setbacks, bringing him a step closer to a trial that could send him to prison and get his licence suspended.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor on Tuesday told Dr. Conrad Murray that after listening to six days of testimony at a preliminary hearing there was enough evidence for the doctor to stand trial.

The ruling sets the stage for a high-profile trial that will examine all aspects of the pop star's death and try to finally fix responsibility for his demise at the age of 50.

Moments after he delivered the ruling, Justice Pastor also suspended the cardiologist's licence to practise medicine in California, a move that the physician's attorney warned could prompt two other States, where he has clinics, to do the same.

Dr. Murray has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's June 2009 death, with prosecutors accusing him of providing the singer with a lethal dose of the anaesthetic propofol and other sedatives. The doctor has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court on January 25 for another arraignment.

Justice Pastor made minimal comments on his ruling that there was enough evidence for Dr. Murray (57) to stand trial. But the judge was clear that he thought Jackson's former personal physician may pose an “imminent danger” if allowed to keep his medical licence.

A prosecutor portrayed Dr. Murray in closing statements on Tuesday as a doctor who showed poor medical judgment and who had cost the Jackson family dearly. “Because of Dr. Murray's actions, Michael is gone,” Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said. “Because of Dr. Murray's actions, Michael's children are left without a father.”

On the final day of the preliminary hearing, another of Dr. Murray's attorneys grilled experts on the possibility that Jackson somehow gave himself a fatal dose of propofol.

A coroner's official and a prosecution expert said that while it was possible Jackson swallowed propofol when his doctor stepped out of his bedroom, it was unlikely. Dr. Richard Ruffalo, an anaesthesiologist who testified as an expert witness, said Dr. Murray expressed concern about Jackson being addicted to the anaesthetic in an interview with police two days after the singer's death. The cardiologist told police he left Jackson alone to use the restroom, and when he returned the pop star was not breathing. “It's the same as having a heroin addict and leaving the syringe next to him and walking away,” said Dr. Ruffalo.

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