Michael Jackson’s doctor plans to surrender to authorities at a courthouse this afternoon, his lawyer said.
Dr Conrad Murray’s lawyer posted a brief statement on his website saying the physician planned to surrender at 1:30pm local time (9.30pm Irish time).
Murray’s lawyers have said they expect the doctor to be charged with a single count of involuntary manslaughter for administering a powerful anaesthetic to Jackson before he died last June.
News crews began setting up operations at dawn at the Los Angeles International Airport Courthouse, placing cameras along the entire entrance.
As the last person to see Jackson alive, Murray has been the focal point of a police investigation since Jackson died on June 25 aged 50.
Murray acknowledged that he administered the hospital anaesthetic propofol and other sedatives as Jackson, a chronic insomniac, struggled to sleep.
Murray had been hired as the performer’s personal physician as he prepared for a monumental comeback concert in London. The doctor was to have travelled with Jackson and had closed down his cardiology practices in Houston and Las Vegas to devote himself to Jackson full-time.
The death of the pop superstar left the doctor’s life and medical practice in limbo.
There was talk of a criminal case even before a coroner’s report found that Jackson’s death was a homicide and pinpointed propofol and other drugs as the cause.
On Friday, after a week of on-again, off-again reports that Murray would be charged, district attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office was delaying any action until Monday amid reports that police wanted to arrest and handcuff the doctor but his attorneys were negotiating to avoid that.
The drama of his surrender and subsequent arraignment was to be played out in front of news cameras, and Murray’s legal team wanted to avoid the spectacle of having the doctor seen in handcuffs by a large audience – including potential jurors for his trial.
One group that wants to see him in handcuffs is a contingent of Michael Jackson fans who launched a telephone campaign to the Los Angeles Police Department demanding as much.
They threatened to hold a protest at the courthouse if Murray was allowed to surrender on his own.
The doctor maintains nothing he gave Jackson should have killed him. A trial would be expected to involve expert medical testimony on the use of propofol and whether there was gross negligence involved in its use at a private home. It is normally administered in hospital settings.
Murray’s lead defence lawyer, Ed Chernoff, has said the doctor is prepared for the legal battle ahead.
“We’ll make bail, we’ll plead not guilty and we’ll fight like hell,” said Mr Chernoff.