A judge on Tuesday ordered the personal physician of Michael Jackson to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter after hearing testimony that he administered a dose of a powerful anesthetic and other sedatives, then left the pop star alone.
The ruling in the case against Houston cardiologist Dr. Conrad Murray came after a six-day preliminary hearing before Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor.
Prosecutors concluded their case with testimony from two doctors who said Murray acted outside the standard of medical care when he administered the anesthetic propofol and failed to provide proper care.
Both witnesses said that even if Jackson had self-administered the final dose of the drug, his death would be a homicide because of Murray's actions.
Murray's defense attorney Ed Chernoff and prosecutors declined to comment on the ruling.
Jackson family members welcomed the development.
"I'm happy so far," LaToya Jackson said while walking to her car. Randy Jackson thanked prosecutors while flashing a peace sign outside the courtroom.
Murray, 57, has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys have said he did not give Jackson anything that should have killed him. Murray could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
Pastor also granted a request by the California Medical Board to suspend Murray's license to practice medicine in the state. Pastor said he made the decision in the interest of public safety and ordered Murray to notify every district in which he practices of the decision within 24 hours. Murray has clinics in Houston and Las Vegas.
During closing arguments at the preliminary hearing, another defense attorney, Joseph Low IV, argued the case should be dismissed because prosecutors didn't adequately prove how Murray caused Jackson's death. He also said Jackson's health may have been a contributing cause.
"In contrast to Mr. Low's comment, let me just say, it was not Michael Jackson's time to go," Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said. "Because of Dr. Murray's actions, Michael's children are left without a father."