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Tape of Jackson includes slurred words on concerts

Jurors at the trial of the doctor accused of killing Michael Jackson on Tuesday heard the pop star's slurred words while he was on a powerful anaesthetic, caught on tape weeks before his death.

world Updated: Sep 28, 2011 02:19 IST
AP
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This-image-taken-from-the-prosecution-courtroom-evidence-screen-purports-to-show-Michael-Jackson-lying-on-a-hospital-gurney-in-the-screen-grab-from-pool-video-during-opening-arguments-in-Dr-Conrad-Murray-s-trial-in-the-death-of-pop-star-Michael-Jackson-in-Los-Angeles

Jurors at the trial of the doctor accused of killing Michael Jackson on Tuesday heard the pop star's slurred words while he was on a powerful anaesthetic, caught on tape weeks before his death. They also saw a photo of his pale body lying on a gurney after he died from an overdose of a powerful anaesthetic.

The sounds and images were just part of the multimedia presentation that prosecutors presented during opening statements at the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr Conrad Murray.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren described Jackson as "highly under the influence" when speaking with Murray in May 2009. The singer is heard slurring his words and barely audible, saying he wanted to impress those who watched his upcoming comeback concerts.

"When people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life,'" the voice on the recording says.

On June 25, 2009, Jackson died of an overdose of the powerful anaesthetic propofol.

"What happened during that time frame is that the acts and omissions of Michael Jackson's personal doctor Conrad Murray directly led to his premature death at age 50," Walgren told jurors.

He said Jackson trusted Murray as his physician.

"That misplaced trust in Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life," Walgren said.

Walgren also provided details on shipments of propofol sent to Murray, saying the physician was sent more than 4 gallons (15 litres) of the anaesthetic in the time he worked for Jackson.

The doctor had initially requested $ 5 million to work for the singer for a year, but accepted the lower rate of USD 150,000 a month, Walgren said. His contract to be Jackson's personal physician was never signed and he was never paid. Testimony was expected to begin later in the day.

A number of Jackson's family members were in the courthouse, including his father Joseph, mother Katherine, sisters LaToya and Janet, and brothers Jermaine, Randy and Tito.

LaToya Jackson carried a sunflower, Michael's favourite flower. Murray arrived holding hands with his mother.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and he and his attorneys have denied he gave Jackson anything that should have killed the pop superstar.

The trial opened with a bit of star power and the one thing the King of Pop enjoyed throughout his life a worldwide audience.

Jackson gave himself fatal dose of drug: Defense

Prosecutors told jurors Tuesday that Michael Jackson was killed by the actions of his personal physician, who used a dangerous anesthetic without adequate safeguards and botched recovery efforts when he found the singer unconscious.

Defense attorneys countered that Jackson caused his own death by taking the drug propofol after his doctor left the room in a desperate attempt to overcome his chronic inability to sleep.

Nothing Dr. Conrad Murray could have done would have saved the King of Pop, defense attorney Ed Chernoff told the panel, because Jackson was desperate to regain his fame and needed rest to prepare for a series of crucial comeback concerts.

The competing versions of Jackson's death and Murray's role in it were laid out in opening statements at the physician's involuntary manslaughter trial.

Speaking for more than an hour, prosecutor David Walgren relied heavily on photos and audio recordings to make his case that Murray was an inept and reckless caretaker of Jackson.

He showed a photo of a lifeless Jackson on a hospital gurney, and played a recording of Jackson speaking to Murray while the prosecutor said he was under the influence of an unknown substance roughly six weeks before his death.

The singer's speech was heavily slurred but recognizable as the international superstar. He spoke of his hopes for the upcoming concerts.

"We have to be phenomenal," Jackson is heard telling Murray. "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."

Murray is accused of giving Jackson a lethal dose of propofol in the bedroom of the singer's rented mansion, but Chernoff said Jackson gave himself the fatal dose.

He claimed the singer swallowed several pills of the sedative lorazepam on the morning of his death and that was enough to put six people to sleep. He also said Jackson self-ingested propofol, and it killed him instantly.

Jackson did not even have a chance to close his eyes, Chernoff said.

In his opening remarks, Walgren said Murray was grossly negligent by providing Jackson propofol. The prosecutor said while working for Jackson, the doctor was shipped more than four gallons of the anesthetic, which is normally given in hospital settings.

He said Jackson trusted Murray as his physician.

"That misplaced trust in Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life," Walgren said.

"He left him there, abandoned him to fend for himself," the prosecutor said later.