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Jackson doctor to plead not guilty

Lawyers for the doctor accused over Michael Jackson's death have said that they will not seek a plea bargain in his involuntary manslaughter trial.

Conrad Murray is to appear in court for a pre-trial arraignment, where he plans to enter a plea of not guilty.

His lawyers said he will go to trial and they are confident of their case despite a strong presentation by prosecutors at a preliminary hearing earlier this month.

The prosecution suggests that Murray - who was treating the singer for insomnia - was guilty of gross negligence over his death from an overdose of the surgical anaesthetic propofol in combination with other drugs.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor will set a date for Murray's trial.

Murray could face a maximum of four years in prison if convicted, but his defence is not just an effort to avoid prison; it's a fight for his professional life.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor suspended his California medical licence pending the outcome of the trial, and a conviction on a felony could mean that Murray could never practice medicine again.

"I think ultimately, it will not go to trial," said Dana Cole, a defence attorney not involved in Murray's case. "There's too much risk."

He said a plea of guilty or no contest could bring a better result for the doctor than a jury verdict, and suggested that "creative solutions" could be crafted, including a term of house arrest to avoid the long, costly ordeal of a trial.

But district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said, "The people are ready to proceed with this case."

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