Michael Jackson - Prosecutors Take Aim At Conrad Murray For 'Gross Negligence' As Trial Begins
DR. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial has begun in Los Angeles with prosecutor David Walgren telling the court that the physician's "gross negligence" and "unskilled acts" led directly to the death of Michael Jackson.
Murray is accused of administering the lethal dose of anaesthetic Propofol which cost the King of Pop his life in June, 2009. Jackson was using the drug as a sleep aid.
In his opening statement, Walgren told the jury, "Conrad Murray repeatedly acted with gross negligence, repeatedly denied 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."
The prosecutor also addressed the business arrangement that existed between Murray and Jackson, revealing the doctor had demanded $5 million (£3.1 million) to care for the pop superstar during his This Is It comeback shows in London. They eventually agreed on $150,000 (£93,750)-a-month plus "air fare to and from London, and housing in London during the tour".
Walgren noted, "This contract was never signed by the parties. Conrad Murray, as an individual and as part of his medical practice, signed the contract on June 24th, 2009 (the day before Jackson's death). No representative for Aeg, or Michael Jackson, or a rep for Michael Jackson, signed it."
The prosecution also used the opening of the trial to recall a health meeting between Jackson, Murray and the This Is It promoters in the days leading up to the King of Pop's death, during which the doctor took a "hostile tone" when he was asked about his patient's wellbeing.
Walgren told the court that Murray accused the show's choreographer Kenny Ortega of meddling by questioning whether Jackson was healthy enough to rehearse. He quoted Murray as allegedly saying, "Michael is physically and emotionally fine and it should not be your concern."
But the prosecutors claim Jackson was in terrible shape during a rehearsal a week before his death, alleging the singer had "chills" and "was trembling", adding, "He was cold, he was rambling." The Thriller star reportedly went home instead of rehearsing.
Walgren told the court, "That is what Conrad Murray is seeing and observing, and what does he do with that knowledge, with that information? On May 12, he orders another shipment of Propofol."
Several members of the Jackson family were in court for the opening of the trial, which is expected to last five to six weeks.