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Michael Jackson / Conrad Murray in the news > Jury To Hear About Day Michael Jackson Died

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28 Sep 2011


Jury To Hear About Day Michael Jackson Died

Michael Jackson's personal assistant is expected to testify Wednesday about the chaos inside the pop icon's bedroom in the minutes after Dr. Conrad Murray realized Jackson had stopped breathing.


Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial began Tuesday with prosecutors playing a stunning audio recording of a drugged Jackson slurring his words weeks before his death and showing jurors a photo of Jackson's corpse on a hospital gurney.


Jackson's struggle to sleep between rehearsals for his "This Is It" comeback concerts is central to the prosecution and defense theories of how the entertainer died on June 25, 2009.


Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Walgren blamed Murray for Jackson's death, saying he abandoned "all principles of medical care" when he used the surgical anesthetic propofol to put Jackson to sleep every night for more than two months.


The coroner ruled that Jackson's death was the result of "acute propofol intoxication" in combination with sedatives.


Murray defense lawyer Ed Chernoff contended that Jackson, desperate for sleep, caused his own death by taking a handful of sedatives and drinking propofol while the doctor was out of the room.


Scientific evidence will show that, on the morning Jackson died, he swallowed a sedative without his doctor's knowledge, "enough to put six of you to sleep and he did this when Dr. Murray was not around," Chernoff said.


Jackson then ingested a dose of propofol on his own, creating "a perfect storm that killed him instantly," Chernoff said.


"When Dr. Murray came into the room and found Michael Jackson, there was no CPR, no paramedic, no machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson," he said.


"He died so rapidly, so instantly that he didn't have time to close his eyes," Chernoff said.


Chernoff told jurors that Murray was trying to wean Jackson off propofol when Jackson died.


Jackson's death was "tragic, but the evidence will not show that Dr. Murray did it," Chernoff told jurors.


Jurors on Wednesday will hear from Michael Emir Williams, who worked as Jackson's personal assistant. He called the day Jackson died "just a horrible, crazy experience" when he testified at Murray's preliminary hearing last January.


Williams is expected to again describe loading Jackson's three children into an SUV to follow the ambulance carrying their father to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.


He previously described Murray as acting "strange, odd, weird" at the hospital following Jackson's death.


The defense is likely to question Williams about trips he took with Jackson to the Beverly Hills clinic of Dr. Arnold Klein in the weeks before his death. Medical records show Klein gave Jackson numerous shots of Demerol, Chernoff told jurors Tuesday.


Jackson's inability to sleep the morning he died was "one of the insidious effects" of Demerol addiction withdrawal, Chernoff said. Since Murray did not know about the Demerol, he could not understand why Jackson was unable to fall asleep that morning, Chernoff said.


Murray appeared to become emotional at one point as Chernoff presented his opening statement Tuesday morning, dabbing his eyes at times. Mostly, though, the defendant remained stoic through the proceedings.


If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Murray could spend four years in a California prison and lose his medical license.


Prosecutors played clips from Murray's interview with investigators in which he described giving Jackson a final dose of the propofol after a long, restless night when the singer begged for help sleeping.


"The evidence in this case will show that Michael Jackson trusted his life to the medical skills of Conrad Murray, unequivocally that that misplaced trust had far too high a price to pay," Walgren said. "That misplaced trust in the hands of Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life."


The most dramatic moment Tuesday came when jurors heard a May 10, 2009 recording, captured by Murray's iPhone, of Jackson "highly under the influences of unknown agents," as he talked about his planned comeback concert, according to Walgren.


"We have to be phenomenal," Jackson said in a low voice, his speech slurred. "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.' I'm taking that money, a million children, children's hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson's Children's Hospital."


The tape, prosecutors say, is evidence that Murray knew about Jackson's health problems weeks before his death.


Jurors also saw a video of the superstar rehearsing at the Staples Center in Los Angeles the night before he died. Jackson sang and danced to "Earth Song," the last song he would rehearse on stage.


Prosecutors also presented a photo of Jackson's lifeless body on a hospital gurney, about 12 hours later.


Producer Kenny Ortega, the first prosecution witness, said he was jolted by Jackson's appearance when the latter arrived at a rehearsal, on June 19, less than a week before he died.


"He appeared lost and a little incoherent," said Ortega. "I did not feel he was well." Ortega said he gave the pop singer food and wrapped him in a blanket to ward off chills. Jackson watched the rehearsal and did not participate that day.


Ortega was helping Jackson prepare for the "This Is It" world tour scheduled for London's O2 Arena in autumn 2009.


In an email early June 20, Ortega wrote, in part, to AEG president Randy Phillips, "My concern is, now that we've brought the Doctor in to the fold and have played the tough love, now or never card, is that the Artist may be unable to rise to the occasion due to real emotional stuff."


The producer said Jackson appeared weak and fatigued on June 19.


"He had a terrible case of the chills, was trembling, rambling and obsessing," he wrote. "Everything in me says he should be psychologically evaluated. If we have any chance at all to get him back in the light. It's going to take a strong Therapist to (get) him through this as well as immediate physical nurturing. ... Tonight I was feeding him, wrapping him in blankets to warm his chills, massaging his feet to calm him and calling his doctor."


Jackson also appeared scared of losing the opportunity.


"I believe that he really wants this ... it would shatter him, break his heart if we pulled the plug," Ortega wrote. "He's terribly frightened it's all going to go away. He asked me repeatedly tonight if I was going to leave him. He was practically begging for my confidence. It broke my heart. He was like a lost boy. There still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if get him the help he needs."


AEG was the concert promoter.


Murray was unhappy that Jackson did not rehearse June 19 and told Ortega not to try to be the singer's physician, Ortega testified, adding Jackson insisted the next day he was capable of doing the rehearsals. Jackson was a full rehearsal participant in the days before he died, the producer said.


AEG executive Paul Gongaware testified that after the 50 London shows sold out instantly, there were still 250,000 buyers wanting tickets.


Gongaware said he negotiated with Murray, at Jackson's request, to work as the singer's personal doctor. Murray initially asked for $5 million a year, explaining that he would have to close four clinics and lay off employees.


Gongaware rejected that deal, but later offered him $150,000 a month, an amount recommended by Jackson. The physician agreed.


Gongaware and Ortega testified that Jackson on many occasions appeared fully engaged and excited about the impending concerts.


Jackson's parents, brothers Tito, Jermaine and Randy, and sisters La Toya, Janet and Rebbie filled a row in the courtroom for opening statements and the first witness Tuesday. Jackson's three children are not expected to attend the trial or testify, according to a source close to their grandmother, Katherine Jackson.


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