LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA– The first day of the trial against Michael Jackson’s former physician Conrad Murray began today in a packed courtroom filled with onlookers and members of the Jackson family. Right off the bat the prosecution came out swinging with allegations that Murray was responsible for Jackson’s death, which occurred as a result of acute Propofol toxicity.
The prosecution opened its case against Murray with a photo of Jackson’s lifeless body lying on a hospital gurney. Above the photo, the word ‘homicide’ was displayed as prosecutor David Walgren laid out his account of what he believes happened in the superstar’s rented mansion on the day Michael Jackson died. According to the state, Jackson died after being administered a lethal does of Propofol, a drug approved for use by anesthesiologists to sedate patients for major surgery.
Although the drug is intended for use in a surgical setting, prosecutors argue that Murray provided the Propofol to Jackson to help him sleep and that the doctor had ordered massive quantities of the drug specifically for treating Jackson’s insomnia. Murray’s defense team, however, claims that Murray provided only a minute dose of the powerful drug to Jackson and that Jackson himself administered the lethal dose after waking while Murray was in the singer’s bathroom.
Members of the Jackson family, including brothers Jermaine and sisters Janet and LaToya wept as images of their deceased brother were displayed in the courtroom.
Another shocking moment during today’s opening statements came as prosecutors played in court an audio tape that they say is Jackson recorded just weeks before the singer’s death. The audio tape captures Jackson speaking about the upcoming ‘This is It’ tour. Throughout the tape, Jackson is clearly drugged and his voice slurred as he spoke about how he wanted fans to remember his upcoming performance, which was to be held in London’s ’02 Arena. “I want them to say, ‘I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life,'” said Jackson. Sadly, the singer passed away before the first concert was held.
The first witness called by the state, Kenny Ortega, Jackson’s director for the ‘This is It’ tour, stated that he was concerned about the superstar’s health and ability to perform, but was scolded by Murray when he attempted to address his concerns about the singer’s drug use. “He didn’t seem to be well enough to be there,” said Ortega of Jackson when asked by prosecutors about the singer’s condition during the course of the concert rehearsals.
Ortega went on to say that Jackson had begun missing rehearsals but that he was told to stop playing “amateur doctor” by Murray when he shared his worries about Jackson’s health. One of the strongest pieces of evidence presented during the day was an email sent by Ortega to concert promoter Randy Phillips in which he wrote “There is no one taking responsibility, caring for him on a daily basis … today I was feeding him, wrapping him in blankets … and calling his doctor,”
The manslaughter trial against Murray is expected to continue tomorrow.