The prosecution came out swinging on day one of Dr. Conrad Murray’s manslaughter trial, claiming that Michael Jackson’s “misplaced trust” in Dr. Murray “cost him his life.” To convey that that argument, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren showed the court a picture of Michael Jackson on June 24, 2009 dancing on a rehearsal stage and looking healthy. He then showed a graphic image of the singer on June 25, 2009, dead on a hospital gurney. In the image Jackson’s mouth is open, his eyes are closed and there is tape over the space between his lips and nose. Walgren told the jury that Jackson’s death was a homicide, and while the cause of death was acute propofol intoxication, the reason for the death was that Conrad Murray “repeatedly acted with gross negligence… his unskilled acts led to Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009.” As the images flashed Latoya Jackson passed tissues to her sister, Janet as they sat in the gallery with Michael Jackson’s parents and other siblings.
Dr. Murray’s lawyer, Ed Chernoff, argued in his opening statement that Murray isn’t to blame for Jackson’s death and that Jackson gave himself of dose of of drugs that killed him so quickly that Jackson “didn’t even have time to close his eyes.”
For his part, Dr. Murray looked stunned at what was presented by the prosecution. Murray cried as his defense attorney described his client as a doctor that saved the lives of people that couldn’t afford to pay.
The defense contends that Murray had begun trying to wean Jackson off of the propofol in the days before his death. They say that Jackson compartmentalized his life in such a way that Murray was unaware that his client was addicted to demerol. Chernoff said that Jackson had become addicted demerol from visiting dermatologist Arnold Klein.
A side effect of demerol use is an inability to sleep. “It was an absolute, total and thorough inability to sleep. Not for minutes, not for hours. For days,” Chernoff said.
“Michael Jackson told Doctor Murray that his insomnia was the result of his mind always racing…it was the genius of him…and perhaps that’s partly true…but it was also the demerol,” Chernoff said.
As part of their opening statement the prosecution also played this disturbing audio tape of an incoherent Jackson describing his comeback tour, stammering and slurring his words. Walgren told the court that the tape was retrieved from Dr. Conrad Murray’s cell phone and recorded in May of 2009, weeks before the singer’s death.
Before opening statements began it could have been a scene from Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial, except Dr. Conrad Murray arrived with his mother. The image of Jackson on the gurney must have been a horrible sight for the Jackson family who once again stepped into a courtroom to support their son and brother. Joe, Katherine, Janet, Tito, Latoya, Reebe, Randy and Jermaine Jackson all came together for the first day of Dr. Murray’s trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop star. Latoya seemed to be taking copious notes during the proceedings, jotting it all down in a Louis Vuitton notebook.
Michael Jackson’s friend and choreographer, Kenny Ortega, was the first witness called in the case. On Wednesday Paul Gongaware, CEO of AEG Live, will take the stand.
At 9 AM PST, before proceedings got underway, the jury was called in to the judge’s chambers. No word on what went on in there.
The start of the trial also came with surprise for Murray. On the 9th floor of the courthouse hallway a woman tried to approach Murray in a sudden swift movement. A deputy blocked her, as she muttered, “I only wanted to talk to him.”