Michael Jackson died due to repeated incompetence and negligence by his personal doctor, a prosecutor said Tuesday as the manslaughter trial
opened for Dr. Conrad Murray.
But Murray's defense countered that Jackson caused his own death by taking a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol when Murray wasn't looking.
Both sides laid out their cases on the first day of opening statements in a Los Angeles courtroom. Jackson's family members, many dressed in black, watched, listened and wept.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren played a recording of Jackson speaking in a slow, slurred voice to show the effects of the propofol that Murray administered to help Jackson sleep.
On the recording on Murray's iPhone, time-stamped 9:05 a.m. on May 10, 2009, Jackson discusses his feelings about his upcoming This Is It concert series in London.
"When people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life,' " Jackson says. "Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world."
Six weeks later, Jackson died
of a propofol overdose at age 50.
Murray, 58, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, allegedly over-sedated Jackson and failed to notice that he had stopped breathing for crucial minutes before finally calling 911, the prosecution will argue.
The prosecutor told the jury that Murray "repeatedly acted with gross negligence, repeatedly denied care, appropriate care, to his patient, Michael Jackson, and it was Dr. Murray's repeated incompetent and unskilled acts that led to Michael Jackson's death."
But defense attorney Ed Chernoff told the jury that Jackson took the propofol himself when Murray was out of the room and "created a perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly."
Murray, according to Chernoff, had been trying to wean Jackson off propofol and had only administered a relatively small amount before Jackson gave himself the lethal dose.
Chernoff also said Murray is not the reckless, greedy amateur portrayed by the prosecution, but rather a conscientious interventional cardiologist who serves some of the poorest people in Houston and sometimes pays for their prescriptions.
Jackson's family sat in the courtroom during the opening statements and heard the recording of Jackson's voice.
His brother Jermaine and sister Janet Jackson briefly held hands across sister Rebbie's lap, and Michael's mother Katherine removed her glasses, held her head down and repeatedly dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.