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Jackson death trial opens with grim photos

09-28-2011 08:35 BJT

LOS ANGELES - Grim photos of Michael Jackson lying dead in a hospital bed juxtaposed with a picture of the "Thriller" singer rehearsing the day before his demise brought an emotional opening on Tuesday to the manslaughter trial of the doctor hired to care for him.

Dr. Conrad Murray (C) wipes a tear during the opening arguments in his trial in the death
of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles September 27, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

This image taken from the prosecution courtroom evidence screen purports to show Michael
Jackson lying on a hospital gurney in the screen grab from pool video during opening
arguments in Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los
Angeles September 27, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

In opening arguments two years after Jackson's sudden death by drug overdose, prosecutor David Walgren told jurors that the pop star "literally put his life in the hands of Dr. Conrad Murray."

"That misplaced trust in the hands of Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life," Walgren added.

But Murray's lawyers argued that Jackson "caused his own death" by giving himself extra medication. "He died so rapidly, so instantly, he didn't even have time to close his eyes," defense attorney Ed Chernoff said in opening arguments.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter of Jackson on June 25, 2009, but faces a prison sentence of up to four years if jurors find he is ultimately responsible for the pop star's death due to inadequate care. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

The Texas cardiologist, who was getting $150,000 a month to care for Jackson, wiped away tears during Tuesday's opening statements as attorney Chernoff defended him.

Jackson's lifeless body was found at his rented Los Angeles mansion just three weeks before a series of 50 planned London comeback concerts titled "This Is It" were scheduled to begin.

Murray has admitted giving the 50 year-old pop star a dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleeping aid while he rehearsed for the shows. But Chernoff told jurors Murray was trying to wean the pop star off his addiction to the drug, which Jackson called his "milk."

Tired, weary of rehearsing, and under pressure to get the concerts ready, a frustrated Jackson gave himself eight lorazepam anti-anxiety pills in a bid to sleep in the early hours of June 25, 2009, Chernoff said.


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