A photo of Michael Jackson lying dead in a hospital bed was shown in a courtroom today and jurors heard a shocking audio tape of a drugged Jackson slurring his words so badly that he was barely understandable. The photo and the audio were part of the opening statement prosecutors made at the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the king of pop.
Attorney David Walgren showed a photo of Jackson dancing at the Staples Center the night before he overdosed on propofol and put the picture side by side with a picture of Jackson lying lifeless in a hospital bed wearing a hospital gown.
“What happened between that time and approximate 12 hours later when Michael Jackson is dead on June 25, 2009?” Walgren asked. “What you will learn through the evidence is that 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 the age of 50.”
Murray, 58, could face four years in prison and lose his medical license. Throughout the opening statement, prosecutors attacked Murray’s medical skills, saying he showed gross negligence in his treatment of Jackson. Prosecutors played a recording of a drugged Jackson. The recording had been made on Murray’s iPhone on May 10, 2009, a little more than a month before Jackson died on June 25, 2009.
Jackson’s voice is nearly unrecognizable as he stumbles and talks slowly about the impact he hopes his “This Is It” Tour will have. Jackson was preparing for the 50-night grueling comeback tour at the time of his death.
Michael Jackson’s Drugged Phone Call “We have to be phenomenal… 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,” he mumbles
“I’m taking that money, a million children, children’s hospital the biggest in the world. Michael Jackson’s Children’s Hospital,” Jackson says in the recording.
The prosecutor also said that the upcoming tour was important to Jackson because it would be the first time that his children would see him perform.The courtroom is packed with the Jackson family members including father Joe Jackson, mother Kathryn Jackson and siblings like Janet Jackson. Murray, in a gray pin striped suit, looked stunned at the evidence compiled against him. Some of that evidence included Murray’s own recorded conversation with detectives just two days after Jackson’s death.
During that conversation, he claimed he gave Jackson a small dose of propofol on the day he died and that he only left him for 15 minutes to go to the bathroom. “Then I came back to his bedside and was shocked because he wasn’t breathing,” he says in the audio recorded June 27, 2009.
Prosecutors contend that phone records show that Jackson was left unattended for far longer and that 911 was not called right away. “It will be clear that Conrad Murray abandoned Michael when he needed help. It was Conrad Murray’s gross negligence, it was Conrad Murray’s unskilled hands and his desire to obtain this lucrative contract of $150,000 a month that led Dr. Murray to not only abandon his patient, but to abandon all principles of medical care,” said Walgren.
Walgren also showed pictures of Jackson’s bedroom to show how medical monitoring devices typically used when someone is under anesthesia were not there or appeared unused. A blood pressure cuff was still in a box and an oxygen tank had no oxygen, Walgren said.
Jackson died over two years ago at 50 after overdosing on the powerful anesthetic, propofol. The defense will contend that it was Jackson who self-administered the last dose of the anesthesia that ultimately was his death potion. Defense attorneys Edward Chernoff and Nareg Gourjian are expected to argue that Jackson gave himself the dose after Murray left Jackson’s bedroom.
“It is not at all implausible in my opinion that he could have pushed an injection into that port and inadvertently killed himself,” said Vesna Maras, a former medical prosecutor for the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.
Propofol is typically administered in an operating room and is commonly referred to as “milk” among addicts. Murray’s defense attorneys claim that their client was trying to wean Jackson off the drug.
“I think if they were going to handle this in a way that makes the most sense, they’re not going to try and vilify Michael Jackson…they’re going to cast…Dr. Murray as someone who wanted to wean him off, do what he could to minister him literally,” said veteran defense attorney Mark Geragos.
Prosecution Won’t Call Jackson Kids to Witness StandProsecutors David Walgren and Deborah Brazil are expected to argue that Murray was reckless in administering the drug and should have never left Jackson unattended.
One thing prosecutors won’t do is call any of Jackson’s three kids to the witness stand. However, legal experts said that it doesn’t mean the kids might not testify on behalf of defense lawyers.