Jurors in Los Angeles have begun their deliberations in the involuntary manslaughter trial against Michael Jackson’s personal doctor who is accused of causing the singer’s death in June 2009.
The seven-man, five-woman panel began discussing the case yesterday morning, after hearing spirited closing arguments by prosecutors and defence lawyers.
Prosecutor David Walgren urged them to convict Dr Conrad Murray, arguing the Houston-based cardiologist was reckless with Jackson’s life and left his children without a father.
Defence lawyer Ed Chernoff argued prosecutors had not proved their case and were trying to convict Murray for the actions of Jackson, whom he has claimed gave himself a fatal overdose of the anaesthetic propofol, which he had been using as a sleep aide.
Murray faces a possible sentence ranging from probation to four years behind bars and the loss of his medical licence if convicted.
Media were camped outside the courthouse yesterday and crowded the courtroom where the jury’s decision will eventually be read.
There was no sign of Murray or lawyers handling the case, but they will receive a two-hour notice when a verdict is reached.
Murray waived the need for his presence if the panel asks any questions, but must be present when a verdict is reached. He also declined to give evidence.
Jackson died from a fatal dose of the anaesthetic propofol which Murray has acknowledged he prescribed for Jackson to help him sleep.
The real reason Jackson died, Mr Chernoff argued, was because he craved the powerful anaesthetic so much that he gave himself a fatal injection when Murray left his bedside.
“They want you to convict Dr Murray for the actions of Michael Jackson,” he said.
But Mr Walgren mocked the idea that they should pity Dr Murray and defence attempts to draw their sympathy, noting: “Michael Jackson is dead. And we have to hear about poor Conrad Murray and no doctor knows what it’s like to be in his shoes.”
Mr Walgren noted that several doctors who testified – including two who were called by Murray’s lawyers – said they would have never given the singer anaesthesia in his bedroom.
Murray is solely to blame for Jackson’s death, Mr Walgren argued, saying he had bought more than four gallons of propofol to administer to Jackson and had been giving him nightly doses to help him sleep.
Mr Walgren repeatedly described Murray’s treatments as unusual and called his actions on the day of the singer’s death – including not calling police and not mentioning his propofol doses to paramedics or other doctors – “bizarre.”
The physician was essentially experimenting on Jackson, he said. Murray should have known he might die from the treatments, yet he lacked the proper life-saving and monitoring equipment.
“What is unusual and unpredictable is that Michael Jackson lived as long as he did under the care of Conrad Murray in this situation,” Mr Walgren said.
The prosecutor repeatedly invoked the singer’s children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, and said Murray’s actions left them without a father.
The Houston-based cardiologist’s fate will be decided by jurors, who heard from 49 witnesses and have more than 300 pieces of evidence to consider.
If Murray is convicted, he faces a sentence that ranges from probation to four years behind bars, and he would lose his medical licence.
If acquitted, Murray would be free from criminal prosecution, but will probably be pursued by medical licensing authorities in the states of California, Nevada and Texas.