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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of the doctor accused of killing Michael Jackson, with a prosecutor saying the superstar’s misplaced trust in Conrad Murray led to his death.
A jury of seven men and five women will hear opening statements throughout the day Tuesday.
Murray is accused in the 2009 death of Jackson, who died from an overdose of the powerful drug propofol, in combination with other drugs.
“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 age 50,” Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said.
Walgren told the jury that Michael Jackson died alone in his bed, after Dr. Conrad Murray provided the singer a cocktail of powerful medications.
Graphic photos of Jackson’s body, as well as an audio recording of him slurring his words just a month before his death, were both used by the prosecution.
“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,’” Jackson says on the tape. “I’m taking that money, a million children, children’s hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson’s Children’s Hospital.”
Walgren said the recording shows Murray knew what he was doing to Michael Jackson long before the fatal does of propofol was administered.
He told the jury that on the morning of Jackson’s death, Murray waited 24 minutes before he instructed security staff to call 911.
“It was Conrad Murray’s unskilled hands and his desire to obtain $150,000 a month that led Dr. Murray to abandon his patient and to abandon all principles of medical care,” Walgren said. “Conrad Murray’s actions and omissions caused the death of Michael Jackson.”
Lead Defense Attorney Ed Chernoff told the jury it was not Dr. Murray who administered the fatal dose of propofol. He said the evidence will show that Michael Jackson administered the fatal dose himself.
CBS2 legal analyst Steve Meister says the most important witness will be the forensic pathologist.
Jackson’s former attorney Tom Mesereau says the prosecution will also have to teach the jury that propofol is not like regular prescription medication.
“Every doctor I’ve talked to was shocked it was in a home, not to mention you didn’t have trained personnel and you didn’t have the proper equipment,” Mesereau said. “The prosecution must explain how outrageous it was to have this powerful drug in the home.”
“The thing that seems very incriminating to me is that apparently this doctor, a physician in charge of Michael Jackson’s health, never told the paramedics at the scene about propofol; never told the police at the scene about propofol,” he added. “Then he went to the hospital where they were trying to revive Michael Jackson and he still didn’t mention propofol. To me, that indicates consciousness of guilt.”
The judge has already rejected a motion to show a video the defense says will show that Jackson was under the influence and ailing months before his death when he first announced his “This Is It” concert series in London.
The judge also rejected a motion to admit evidence showing Murray ignored law enforcement requests for extended interviews in the days after Jackson’s death.