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Accusations fly as Jackson death trial opens

world Updated: Sep 29, 2011 00:51 IST

More than two years after Michael Jackson's death from an overdose of a powerful surgical anaesthetic, the irrepressible circus surrounding the King of Pop was back in full swing as the personal physician who attended to him in his dying hours stood trial for involuntary manslaughter.

Inside judge Michael Pastor's courtroom, lawyers for the prosecution and the defence laid out their opening statements - one asserting that Conrad Murray was single-handedly responsible for Jackson's death and the other placing the blame squarely on Jackson himself.

In attendance were Jackson's parents, Joe and Katherine, and his magician, Majestic Magnificent. The mood, however, was appropriately sombre.

David Walgren, representing the district attorney's office, offered evidence showing that Murray ordered a staggering 15.5 litres of the surgical anaesthetic propofol in the last two and half months of the singer's life. Walgren alleged that Murray relied on the drug to get the singer to sleep every night, even though it has no known application as a sleeping aid, and routinely administered it without monitoring equipment to check Jackson's response.

Murray himself showed no reaction as Walgren painted him as a man willing to abandon his medical responsibilities to earn a lucrative $150,000 per month paycheck.

For the defence, Ed Chernoff took issue with almost every assertion from Walgren. He alleged that, just before he died, Jackson swallowed eight bottles of a drug called lorazepam, enough to knock out six adults. Chernoff also asserted that Jackson gave himself a dose of propofol on top of that, while Murray was out of the room, creating a "perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly".

"There was no CPR, no doctor, no paramedic, no machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson," Chernoff said. "He died so rapidly, so instantly, he didn't have time to close his eyes."