Conrad Murray trial: Opening statements made by prosecution, defense
Conrad Murray, the former physician of the late Michael Jackson, appeared before a jury at a Los Angeles courthouse on Tuesday, September 27, to face his charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the King of Pop.
NOTE: You can watch the proceedings online: OnTheRedCarpet.com is hosting a LIVE STREAM of the Conrad Murray trial.
Autopsy results have shown that Jackson died at age 50 at his Los Angeles on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives. A photo of his lifeless body on a gurney was shown at the trial.
Murray, 58, had said he gave the singer a dose of propofol as a sleeping aid and was by the singer's side on the day he died and has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted. His lawyers maintain that Jackson drank propofol on his own while the doctor was away from his bedside and that the dose Murray had administered was too low to be fatal.
"Michael Jackson self-administered an additional dose of propofol and it killed him," Murray's lawyer, Ed Chernoff, told the jury. "It killed him like that. And there was no way to save him. The whole thing's tragic but the evidence is not going to show that Dr. Murray did it."
Prosecutor David Walgren said in his opening statements that Jackson "literally put his life in the hands of Conrad Murray," and that "misplaced trust" cost the singer his life.
Walgren played what he said was a recording of a voice message Jackson made, found on Murray' iPhone, to demonstrate the effect propofol had on him as he prepared for his "This Is It" tour in May 2009. The singer's voice is deeply slurred.
"We have to be phenomenal," Jackson is heard saying. "When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world. I'm taking that money, a million children, children's hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson's Children's Hospital."
The trial is expected to last until October 28. Walgren told the jury that evidence presented and witness testimonies will show that Murray, who was paid $150,000 a month to provide medical care for Jackson while the singer was rehearsing for his sold-out, 50-venue "This Is It" tour, displayed "extreme gross negligence."
Walgren said Murray allegedly lacked the proper expertise or medical equipment to administer propofol, that the doctor improperly used the drug and administered too much of it, that he "abandoned" Jackson while he was sedated and that he ordered a security guard to call 911 at 12:20 p.m. - after he had already called the singer's associates after seeing that Jackson was unresponsive. Walgren also said Murray lied to paramedics and emergency room physicians about the singer's use of propofol.
Murray's lawyer said Jackson had requested propofol personally, saying he used it during past tours and called it his "milk."
He said the doctor administered the drug for two months, but aimed to wean the singer off of it by treating him with other medications at the same time. On the the day he died, Murray gave Jackson 25 mg of propofol, Chernoff said, adding that 130 mg was considered a dangerous amount.
Murray was seen tearing up as his attorney spoke.
Chernoff said Murray told police investigators that he did use monitoring equipment to observe Jackson before he left the room, moments before his death, and that vital signs appeared normal.
"He died so rapidly," the lawyer said. "So instantly. He didn't even have time to close his eyes."
Chernoff said Jackson begged Murray to give him propofol because he was afraid his inability to sleep would force him to cancel his tour.
"Michael Jackson didn't have insomnia," Chernoff added. "He didn't have trouble going to sleep. He didn't wake up in the middle of the night, watch TV and have a bad day the next day. Michael Jackson had an absolute, total and thorough inability to sleep. Not for minutes, not for hours, but for days.
"For those two months ... Michael Jackson slept, he woke up and he lived his life," Chernoff said. "The evidence is not going to show you that Michael Jackson died when Dr. Murray gave him propofol for sleep. What the evidence is going to show you is that Michael Jackson died when Dr. Murray stopped. On the day that Michael Jackson died, this was the third day of a weaning process."
He also said that evidence will show that Jackson was addicted to the morphine-like painkiller Demerol, prescribed to him by the singer's friend and dermatologist Arnold Klein, and that the drug contributed to his sleep disorder.
The attorney said the singer swallowed eight pills of the anti-anxiety medication Lorazepam prior to 12:20 p.m. on June 29, 2005, when he was pronounced dead. Jackson, he said, was frustrated because his doctor refused to give him a drug he preferred and without Murray's knowledge or permission, "did an act that caused his own death."
Chernoff denied that Murray was "greedy" and worked solely for the money. He said jurors would learn about who the doctor, a cardiologist, "really is" through testimonies from some of his patients, including an 82-year-old Texas woman who will make them "very happy to be alive" when she testifies.
Attorneys for both sides said Murray began treating Jackson in 2006 in Las Vegas, where he maintains a clinic, and that he has also provided medical care to his three children.
As Murray arrived at the courtroom with an older woman, another woman rushed towards the doctor, saying she wanted to speak to him. Sheriff's deputies escorted her away. She was not arrested.
Many members of Jackson's family were also present at court, including his parents, Joe and Katherine, his brother Jermaine and sisters La Toya and Janet.
The jury was chosen last week and is made up of seven men and five women. Out of the group, six people are white, five are Hispanic and one is African-American, the race of the doctor and of Jackson. The jurors have been ordered to ignore anything they may have seen or read about Murray, Jackson and the case in the press.Don't forget: In addition to supplying you with breaking news reports, OnTheRedCarpet.com will provide a live stream of the Conrad Murray trial.