Trial of MJ's doctor off to emotional start
Grim photos of Michael Jackson lying dead in a hospital bed juxtaposed with a picture of the "Thriller" singer rehearsing the day before his demise brought an emotional opening on Tuesday to the manslaughter trial of the doctor hired to care for him.world Updated: Sep 28, 2011 02:25 IST
Grim photos of Michael Jackson lying dead in a hospital bed juxtaposed with a picture of the "Thriller" singer rehearsing the day before his demise brought an emotional opening on Tuesday to the manslaughter trial of the doctor hired to care for him.
In opening arguments two years after Jackson's sudden death by drug overdose, prosecutor David Walgren told jurors that the pop star "literally put his life in the hands of Dr. Conrad Murray."
But Walgren added: "That misplaced trust had far too high a price to pay. That misplaced trust in the hands of Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life."
Murray has pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter of Jackson on June 25, 2009, but faces a prison sentence of up to four years if convicted.
The doctor has admitted giving the 50 year-old pop star a dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleeping aid.
But his attorneys are expected to argue during the four-to-six week trial that it was not a fatal dose, and that a drug-addicted Jackson somehow gave himself the additional propofol that, combined with other drugs in his system, killed him.
Jackson's parents, Joe and Katherine, his sisters, Janet and La Toya, and other family members were in court on Tuesday, while outside dozens of fans outside the courtroom held sunflowers, pictures of the dead pop star, and placards saying "Justice for Michael".
Murray entered the courthouse though a side door, avoiding the media presence outside. Several people, some holding "Team Murray" placards, came to support the doctor.
PICTURES OF LIFELESS JACKSON
Jackson's lifeless body was found at his rented Los Angeles mansion just three weeks before a series of 50 planned London comeback concerts that had been titled "This Is It."
Walgren opened the prosecution case by showing jurors a photo of a thin Jackson lying dead on a hospital gurney, side by side with a picture of him singing and dancing while rehearsing for the concerts one day before. Footage of the rehearsals were made into Jackson's posthumous concert movie "This Is It" in 2009, that became a global box office hit.
Jurors in the trial are expected to hear testimony from the paramedics who transported Jackson to the hospital, medical experts, Jackson's choreographer and Murray's girlfriends.
The first prosecution witness is expected to be Kenny Ortega, the choreographer and film director who was hired to stage the London shows and who was conducting rehearsals with Jackson in Los Angeles.
Celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, who once represented Jackson and has closely watched the criminal case against Murray, said that Jackson's 13-year-old daughter, Paris, might also be called to testify in what would likely be one of the most dramatic moments of the trial.
"She not only has things to say, but she can say it in a compelling way," Geragos told Reuters. Paris Jackson was at the house when the singer stopped breathing. Tape of Jackson includes slurred words on concerts
Geragos said he believes prosecutors could have a difficult time winning a conviction -- and that a hung jury with no conviction or acquittal is more likely.
"Jurors are loathe to convict doctors in this type of a situation," Geragos said, adding that often jurors do not want to second-guess doctors.
The responses of the 12-person jury to written questionnaires made public last week show that none of them reported having a negative experience with doctors.
First Published: Sep 28, 2011 00:58 IST