The trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death, opened Tuesday. Jackson's parents and siblings arrived at the Los Angeles courtroom to watch the proceedings.
As prosecutors played an incredibly sad tape of Michael Jackson's voice, recorded just weeks before his death, coupled with a photo of his lifeless body, spectators in the Los Angeles courtroom looked pained. The King of Pop said: "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. I'm taking that money, a million children, children's hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson's Children's Hospital."'"
Prosecutors portrayed Murray, 58, as an incompetent doctor whose gross negligence in administering propofol - a risky drug which requires close monitoring of patient in controlled medical settings - led to Jackson's death in 2009. Walgren’s opening focused on the timeline leading up to Jackson’s death and on Murray’s actions during the last few hours of his life.
Walgren argued that while working for Jackson, Murray shipped more than four gallons of propofol, misusing it against medical practices. "There was no doctor-patient relationship," Walgren said. "... What existed here was an employer-employee relationship. He was not working for the health of Michael Jackson. Dr. Murray was working for a fee of $150,000."
Medical practitioners have said that administering an extremely dangerous anesthetic like propofol as a sleeping aid, outside clinical settings, was rare and should be considered negligence. "Propofol is an agent that requires very close monitoring and is often limited only to use by anesthesiologists," Dr. Richard Page, head of cardiology at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, was quoted by ABC News. "The main issue with this agent is respiratory depression, which in turn could cause cardiac arrest.""It is a very dangerous drug," said Dr. Brian Olshansky, a cardiologist at the University of Iowa who said he often uses it to place patients in deep sedation for certain heart procedures. "It is not for sleep. I cannot imagine anyone would use this outside a very regulated environment such as the availability of emergency respiratory equipment."
As expected, defense attorneys have claimed that the pop star caused his own death by taking a drug overdose, including propofol, after his doctor left the room. Defense attorneys have argued that Murray entered Jackson's room around midday June 25, 2009, to find him not breathing, but with a faint pulse. Murray's attempts to revive Jackson by administering CPR didn't succeed, which prompted him to call for help. Since there was no landline phone available, Murray couldn't call 911, and he claims that he couldn't use his cell phone because he did not know the exact address.
Prosecutor Walgren pointed out that Murray was very active on his phone that morning. He also noted that the doctor responded to an email from the concert promoter’s insurance broker denying media reports about problems with Jackson’s health. Murray never called for emergency services himself, instead waiting more than 20 minutes to have one of Jackson's bodyguards make the call. "Basic common sense requires 911 be called immediately," he said. "Basic common sense. And we know that was not done."
The trial is expected to last at least five weeks. If convicted, Murray faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.