Defense: Jackson caused his own death when Murray was away
September 27th, 2011
05:11 PM ET

Defense: Jackson caused his own death when Murray was away

Editor's note: Opening statements in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, charged with involuntary manslaughter in the June 2009 death of pop icon Michael Jackson, were given in a California courtroom on Tuesday. Prosecutors contend that Murray's use of the surgical anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid led to Jackson's death. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Murray could spend four years in a California prison and lose his medical license.

Below, you'll find a running account of the opening statements. Also, a full report of the opening statements is available.

[Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET] Here are some final notes about the defense's opening statements, which finished about 20 minutes ago:

"We believe the evidence will tell you this: that Michael Jackson wanted to sleep for 10 hours ... needed to sleep, needed to succeed (at his upcoming concert series), and his doctor would not give him propofol, the drug he needed," defense attorney Ed Chernoff said.

Earlier, Chernoff told the jury that Jackson had taken an extra dose of propofol when Murray left the room where Jackson was trying to sleep. This, along with an overdose of a sedative that Chernoff says Jackson took without Murray's knowledge, killed Jackson instantly, according to Chernoff.

Before Murray left the room, Murray - who Chernoff said was trying to wean Jackson off propofol - administered to Jackson 25 milligrams of the drug, but only after Jackson begged for it after 10 hours of restlessness, Chernoff said. That amount of propofol would have dissipated - and would have had no clinical effects - by the time Murray left, Chernoff said.

"The whole thing is tragic, but the evidence is not going to show that Dr. Murray did it," he said. "Dr. Murray is an imperfect man, but in this criminal court we believe he is not guilty."

"We will ask you to acquit him," Chernoff added.

[Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET] The defense has finished its opening statements.

[Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET] The defense's opening statements have resumed following a lunch break.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff said that the 25 milligrams of propofol that he said Murray gave Jackson on the day of his death would have dissipated within 10 minutes, and that should have happened by the time Murray left the room.

Science will prove that Jackson had to have taken more propofol when Murray left the room.

"The science will prove that there had to have been more propofol delivered, provided, taken by Michael Jackson after the period of time (Murray) left that room," Chernoff said.

Chernoff said the defense's theory is that the extra delivery of that propofol "was through Michael Jackson himself."

Earlier, Chernoff said that an extra dose of propofol that he said Jackson took while Murray was out of the room, combined with an extra dose of a sedative that Chernoff said Jackson had taken without Murray's knowledge, killed Jackson.

[Updated at 3:12 p.m. ET] Jurors are on a lunch break. The defense will resume its opening statements at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Some notes about what was said shortly before the break: Defense attorney Ed Chernoff - who at the beginning of his statements said that Jackson had caused his own death by self-administering propofol and another drug without Murray's knowledge - said that Murray, sticking to his plan to wean Jackson off propofol and give him only two other drugs instead, refused to give Jackson propofol for 10 hours in the night/day leading to Jackson's death. Murray gave Jackson 25 milligrams of propofol only after a restless Jackson begged for it, Chernoff said.

Chernoff said Jackson told Murray: “If I don’t sleep, if I don’t get some sleep, I can’t complete my rehearsal. If I can’t complete my rehearsal, I can’t complete my show ... and I will fail.”

Jackson knew when he asked for propofol that he already had other medications in his system, Chernoff said.

Jackson went to sleep after getting the propofol, and Murray checked his vital signs, which were good, the lawyer said. Jackson gave himself more propofol and a dose of another drug when Murray left the room, Chernoff said.

Chernoff also said Jackson was addicted to Demerol prescribed by another doctor, and his insomnia was at least in part related to that.

[Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET] Defense attorney Ed Chernoff - who at the beginning of his statements said that Jackson had caused his own death by self-administering propofol and another drug without Murray's knowledge - tried to counter the prosecution's argument that Murray's provision of propofol to Jackson was negligent.

Chernoff said Murray - who Chernoff said had become Jackson's friend and occasional physician after treating one of Jackson's children in 2006 - agreed to give Jackson propofol to help him sleep as Jackson prepared for his "This Is It" concert series only after Jackson told him that he used propofol during his tours. Murray was concerned that Jackson was going to use propofol "irrespective of Murray."

Murray saw his role as weaning Jackson off propofol, and Jackson agreed to let him try, Chernoff said. And Murray was in that process on the week that Jackson died, giving Jackson only half the normal dose on the night of June 22, and giving Jackson two other sedatives but no propofol on the night of June 23, Chernoff said.

"What you will learn form the evidence ... is this: Dr. Murray provided propofol for sleep for two months for Michael Jackson," said Chernoff, who also said that. "For these two months ... Michael Jackson slept, he woke up, and he lived his life. He went to work and he continued what ... he felt he needed to do."

"The evidence is not going to show you that Michael Jackson died when Dr. Murray gave him propofol," Chernoff said. Rather, Chernoff said, Jackson died "when Dr. Murray stopped."

[Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET] Murray’s defense attorney Ed Chernoff told the jury about conversations Murray had with police during their investigation into Michael Jackson’s death. Chernoff said police interviewed hospital officials and doctors as well as workers at the house where Jackson was staying before Murray was ever interviewed.

Chernoff said that during interviews with police, there were no limitations to the questions, and Murray never took a break to consult with lawyers about whether to answer questions. Murray told detectives, according to Chernoff: "I don't know what killed Michael Jackson. I want to know also."

[Updated at 2:26 p.m. ET] The defense is talking about the prosecution's characterization of Murray as a greedy man who stood to make money off Jackson’s problem.

"If the prosecution is going to tell you he is greedy, callous and reckless, you need to hear the full story," Chernoff said after previewing stories of patients that Murray, a cardiologist, has helped.

Murray began crying when Chernoff described how he met Jackson, and how Murray and Jackson became friends as the pop star let him into his life. Murray wiped from his face as his attorney talked about “the real problems Michael Jackson had.”

Dr. Conrad Murray wipes his eyes during his attorney's opening statements on Tuesday.

[Updated at 2:19 p.m. ET] Defense attorney Ed Chernoff said during the course of the trial he will try to provide answers to two key questions: How did Michael Jackson get to the point where he was on the day of his death? And what happened to Jackson when Murray was in the room?

Chernoff is now saying that the prosecution undersold the scale of the “This Is It” concert series Michael Jackson was preparing for, and the stress Jackson was under. The goal of the tour “was to create history,” Chernoff said. “Not just for us, but for himself.”

Chernoff said the jury will hear from those who were dealing with the production and choreography of the concert that Jackson had not performed for 10 years. “And this particular series of concerts, these shows were going to be his absolution,” Chernoff said. “He needed to do these shows.”

The defense attorney added that the jury will hear how dedicated Jackson was to the tour and how involved he was with it - down to the songs themselves, the effects and clips shown in the background. “This was how Michael Jackson was going to be remembered,” he said. “He needed to do these shows.”

Chernoff added that jurors will hear that in the event that the concerts succeeded, Jackson had plans for four to five movies, including a 3D version of “Thriller,” which would net him hundreds of millions of dollars.

“All he had to do was complete these shows,” he said. “The problem was he was never going to be able to do these shows. Because Michael Jackson had a problem - he had a problem that no amount of determination, dedication or talent would overcome. And he knew that he needed help.”

[Updated at 2:08 p.m. ET] The defense has begun its opening statements by saying that Michael Jackson essentially caused his own death, saying that Jackson - while Murray was out of the room where Jackson was trying to sleep on the day Jackson died - self-administered an extra dose of propofol. This, combined with an extra dose of lorazapam that defense attorney Ed Chernoff said Jackson also took without Murray's knowledge, created "a perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly."

After Murray came into the room and found Jackson, "there was no CPR, nor doctor, no paramedic, no machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson," Chernoff said. "He died so rapidly, so instantly, he didn’t even have time to close his eyes."

The amount of lorazapam that Jackson gave to himself was enough "to put six of you to sleep," Chernoff said.

The prosecution, in its opening statements, said that Murray told investigators that he was out of the room for about two minutes after administering propofol and other drugs to Jackson in an effort to help Jackson sleep.

[Updated at 1:58 p.m. ET] The prosecution is finished with opening statements; the defense is expected to make its opening statements soon.

Toward the end of his statements, prosecutor David Walgren a number of examples of what he said was Murray’s gross negligence. We noted two earlier: that Murray had left Jackson alone for two minutes after he administered propofol on the day Jackson died; and that after emergency personnel were called, Murray told neither medics nor emergency room doctors caring for Jackson that Murray had administered propofol. Here are some other examples Walgren gave:

- Murray administered propofol, a “powerful anesthetic intended for use in highly monitored settings such as a hospital,” in an improper setting - the home where Jackson was staying - Walgren said.

- Murray administered propofol for insomnia, rather than for what it is meant for, such as “the induction and maintenance of general anesthesia, sedation for mechanically ventilated adults, and procedural sedation,” Walgren said.

- The propofol was administered without immediate access to standard resuscitation equipment and drugs, according to Walgren.

- Investigators have found no written informed consent form signed by Jackson, Walgren said.

- No documentation of vital signs and dosages of Murray’s care of Jackson that night - “crucial in a setting such as this, when emergency personnel … (are) seeking the truth (of what happened) - were found, Walgren said.

- 911 wasn’t called immediately when a problem was discovered, Walgren said.

- After emergency personnel were called, Murray told neither paramedics nor emergency room doctors caring for Jackson that Murray had administered propofol, according to Walgren.

[Updated at 1:29 p.m. ET] Prosecutor David Walgren said that during the course of trial jurors will hear not only that Conrad Murray "acted with gross negligence" but also that he was the "cause of Michael Jackson's death."

"Conrad Murray's actions, Conrad Murray's omissions to act directly caused the death of Michael Jackson," he said.

Walgren asked the jury to listen to all of the evidence during the case and return a guilty verdict.

[Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET] Prosecutor David Walgren said that after emergency personnel were called on the day Jackson died, Murray told neither medics nor emergency room doctors caring for Jackson that Murray had administered propofol.

[Updated at 1:24 p.m. ET] After giving Michael Jackson several substances including propofol in an effort to help him sleep, Dr. Conrad Murray told investigators he left him alone for about two minutes, prosecutor David Walgren told jurors in Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial.  That action constitutes "medical abandonment," Walgren alleged.

[Updated at 1:18 p.m. ET] Prosecutors are now focusing on the uses for propofol and the settings for which it should be used.

Prosecutor David Walgren noted that propofol is an "improper treatment of insomnia."

Walgren is now talking about the setup of the equipment - and the lack of proper equipment that are required when propofol is being used.

[Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET] CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin offered a summary of the prosecution’s theory, and how he believes the defense will counter it:

“The prosecution’s theory is pretty straightforward: He was fine when Conrad Murray started treating him; Conrad Murray only got involved in treating Michael Jackson out of enormous greed; and (Murray) was incompetent and he gave him this drug, Propofol, which under no circumstances should be given outside of a hospital setting; and thus he killed Michael Jackson,” Toobin said.

The prosecution is making a case that although Murray is a medical doctor, he wasn’t an expert on Propofol, Toobin said. He said the defense can ask a lot of questions about the prosecution’s theory:

“Who told (Murray) to use propofol? What was the background? What drugs had Michael Jackson been using previously?” Toobin said. “It think for starters, (the defense is) going to give background on Michael Jackson’s history of drug use, including, perhaps – again, we don’t know the facts here – his use of this drug.

“What the prosecution is trying to do is narrow this case down to one single exchange of drugs between Dr. Murray and Michael Jackson in the hours that (Jackson) died. That’s all the prosecution wants this case to be about. The defense is going to want to bring in the whole story of Michael Jackson’s health, his history of drug use, what might have killed him, how he had interacted with physicians in the past.”

[Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET] Dr. Conrad Murray did not mention the drug propofol to emergency room doctors at UCLA Medical Center when asked what pop star Michael Jackson had been given, prosecutor David Walgren told jurors in Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial on Tuesday.

[Updated at 12:58 p.m. ET] Prosecutors are now talking about the phone calls Conrad Murray made on the morning that Michael Jackson was found dead.

Prosecutors say that Murray made a slew of phone calls between 10:20 and 11:51 a.m. that morning. Dr. Conrad Murray is believed to have discovered pop star Michael Jackson unconscious at about 11:56 a.m. on June 25, 2009, but he did not tell anyone to call 911 until 12:20 p.m., prosecutor David Walgren told jurors in Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial Tuesday.

During a phone call at 11:51 a.m. with a cocktail waitress that Murray regarding as his girlfriend, Murray became silent and the phone went dead, Walgren said.

"This is likely the time Conrad Murray first noticed Michael Jackson's lifeless body," prosecutor David Walgren said.

Walgren said that the cocktail waitress on the phone noticed that Murray stopped responding to her on the phone and then five minutes later the call went dead.

At 12:12 p.m. prosecutors said Murray called Michael Jackson's personal assistant Michael Williams and left a message saying "“Call me right away, please. Please call me right away. Thank you.” Williams promptly called Murray back and he was told "Get here right away Mr. Jackson had a bad reaction, he had a bad reaction," according to prosecutors.

Prosectuors noted that when Murray said Jackson had a bad reaction he had yet to call authorities. Williams, who was not close to Jackson's home, summoned security guard Albert Alvarez to go inside the house.

When he gets inside Jackson's room, Murray is giving CPR while Jackson lies on the bed, Walgren said.

Walgren said Murray instructed the security guard to grab a bag and Murray begins grabbing vials and a saline bag hanging from the IV stand to put inside the bag.

That bag was later found inside Jackson's home.

[Updated at 12:54 p.m. ET] Near the start of the prosecution’s opening statements, prosecutors displayed what appeared to be image of Jackson dead, lying on a gurney, several times during a slide presentation highlighting the prosecution’s points.

At one point, a slide showed the image of Jackson’s body next to a picture of Jackson alive. Prosecutor David Walgren indicated that the second photo showed Jackson rehearsing at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on June 24, 2009 – the day before Jackson died. The photo of the body was dated June 25, 2009.

“The question became what occurred between June 24, 2009, when Michael Jackson, shown in this picture, performing at the Staples Center, singing “Earth Song,” – what happened between that time and approximately 12 hours later when Michael Jackson is dead?” Walgren said.

[Updated at 12:52 p.m. ET] Prosecutors are now talking about the days leading up to Michael Jackson's death.

On June 19 "Michael showed up for his rehearsal and he was not in good shape, he was not in good shape at all," prosecutor David Walgren said.

"He had chills, he was trembling ... he was rambling," Walgren added.

He went home early that evening and didn't rehearse because of his physical condition. The next day, prosecutors said, there was a meeting called about Jackson's health. A few days later he was able to practice in much better condition, Walgren said.

[Updated at 12:50p.m. ET] Between April 6, 2009, and the time of Michael Jackson's death on June 25, Dr. Conrad Murray ordered enough propofol to give Jackson 1,937 milligrams a day, prosecutor David Walgren told jurors in his opening statement in Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial Tuesday.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] Prosecutors in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, doctor to the late pop star Michael Jackson, played part of a recording of Jackson made on Murray's iPhone on May 10, 2009. The recording appears to feature a drugged Jackson, slurring his words as he says he wants people to leave his show saying, "He's the greatest entertainer in the world."

The recording 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 anything 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.”

The point of playing the recording, prosecutor David Walgren said, was to demonstrate Murray’s “knowledge of what he is doing to Michael Jackson on May 10, 2009, over a month and a half before Michael Jackson dies as a result of this very treatment.”

[Updated at 12:41 p.m. ET] Propofol, the drug that caused pop star Michael Jackson's death, "is a wonderful drug, if used by someone who knows what they're doing," prosecutor David Walgren told jurors Tuesday at the start of the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad.

[Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET]   At the time Michael Jackson died, Dr. Conrad Murray was not board-certified in any medical specialty, prosecutor David Walgren told jurors Tuesday in his opening statement in Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial.

[Updated at 12:28 p.m. ET] Dr. Conrad 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," prosecutor David Walgren told jurors during his opening statement in Murray's trial Tuesday.

[Posted at 12:23 p.m. ET] Opening statements have begun in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, doctor to the late pop star Michael Jackson. Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's 2009 death.

soundoff (535 Responses)
  1. mary

    Sorry it's simple..
    This man is a medical doctor.. Propofol is never to be used outside of a hospital setting..
    He was hired to take care of MJ... Not do his bidding..
    He did what MJ wanted because he like being part of MJ's life and liked the money.. He chose between being a Doctor and his personal life..
    So no way should this guy get out of at least the mans slaughter..
    It's like anyone serving up poison..if you know its poison, you know the possible outcome.. You're not innocent when the outcome is bad.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john

    i will only allow a white doctor from yale medical school to operate or inject me with drugs.......i want to live..lol

    September 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Maximus

    MJ's death is the result of MJ's irresponsible actions and behavior. MJ's nobody else. Sure, the court might rule otherwise, but Michael Jackson was an adult, he knew the risks. He knew what the consequences could be.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Slartibartfast

    If it is true that jackson suffered interminable insomnia, I feel great sorrow for him. I have suffered insomnia that kept me awake for 11 straight days, something few doctors even believe is possible. It is, believe me. I can't begin to tell you the horror of being that sleep deprived, it involves pain, suicidal thoughts and terrifying hallucinations. I had a Doctor tell me it was no big deal, sooner or later I would get tired enough and sleep. Not true. It is pure torture and I can certainly see how Michael would have risked his life in order to sleep. The Doctors may have been greedy and irresponsible, i just don't know, but he may have seen suffering beyond his ability to ignore and did what he could to alleviate the pain. That is what makes this such a troubling case and makes me wonder about all these comments by people who think they know it all.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mary

    MJ is dead, he can't be brought back to life but for his family there must be justice for him. True he was a drug addict but it was Murrays job to administer physician care to him. He knew he was supposed to be with him all the time but obviously he didn't and MJ died as a result of his neglect. Will this be another dead-end trial like so many others lately? What can be learned from this? How many other stars are surrounding themselves with Doctors that they can buy to medicate themselves? It has to be stopped and this would be a good way to begin. Find Murray guilty!

    September 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bill willis

    If you guys wanna be fair, dont cut away to commercials 2 to 3 times more on cross than direct!!

    September 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Belinda

    Conrad Murray is a quack!!! He took an oath to preserve life. He should have known better!!!! You don't give an insomniac an anesthetic for sleep. You don't perform chest compressions on a victim when they are laying on a bed, you make sure the victim is lying flat on a hard surface such as the floor. Finally, you don't ask the security guard do they know CPR because if you have an MD at the end of your name, CPR should be in your job description.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 21 years Clean and Sober

    For me~someone should have done an intervention and tried to save a fellow human being prior to. This is the most extreme cases I have come across around the world. The Dr. no other comment other than "Shame on you." yet you could have been anyone. and we don't know how many others like you who assisted in his death. Using sucks...I would like to give Sober Rider Billy Idol praise for carrying the message, and also to one of my favorites~Robert Downey Jr. We in this country could focus on making our communities a healthier place to be. You see something~make time to help. I carry the message from Michigan~Clean!

    September 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. daniele

    Wow, what an actor! Tears during the opening statement.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. myoleman

    Why do they blame somebody else for Michael Jackson's early death? HIs own lifestyle killed him. By abusing all type of drugs and indulging his evil carnal desires he brought about his own death. Those who live to satisfy the desires of their own nature will from that same nature reap destruction. But hose who seek to please the Lord will from Him gain eternal life.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. the Prophet

    What hail is wrong in this country and court systems represented by white trash anarchists and i am white mind you....Michael Jackson was a sick individual whom let fame get to his head....he probably bagged his doctor for things the Doctor would do otherwise, i know this because i ask my doctor for Viagra pills and i don't really need them but i use just to sand her trough the roof. So many people get extra from their family doctors including the people representing the law Hippocrates is who we are.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • jb jones

      I agree that there is more than meets the eye in this case. The night of Michael's death, someone in my congregation made a statement that he had been to Michael's home two weeks prior to his death with Bishop Andrae Crouch. As far as he knew, Michael had asked Bishop Crouch to bring a group of singers to his home to assist him (Michael) with a special project. The group was warned against touching Michael, and from acting star-struck in his presence. When they arrived, this person said Michael asked that they all hold hands and pray. Michael Jackson was Jehovah's Witness, this group of people were from Church of God in Christ. It turns out that this was the group of singers that sang at Michael's funeral two weeks later. Coincidence or was Michael planning his own funeral?

      September 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weston Phil

      Michael Jackson was insane and a child molester who ran to the Muslims to shield him from arrest. Good riddance.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Why didn’t dr Murray have the drug Narcan available?!?

      September 29, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. the Prophet

    resist court system many people get extra from their family doctors,,, i get Viagra and don't really need it bu i take it just for fun to sand her through the roof. Hippocrates white trash anarchists

    September 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. the Prophet

    stop blocking my posts resist CNN

    September 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. the prophet

    Michael Jackson was a sick individual and fame got to his head the end justify the means so California racists back off hypocrites of the law

    September 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      You need to shut your mouth...you don't know a damn thing about Michael or what his life was like. Murray IS the guilty one here. Michael Jackson would not have done that to himself......trust me, I know. Now back off of Michael.

      September 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Weston Phil

      He was a child molester. He was insane. Now he's dead and good riddance I say!

      September 28, 2011 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. big Al of KC

    I'm sorry but I think that MJ was as culpable as Dr. Murray. What if MJ induce more when the Doc was gone for 20 mins?

    September 27, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
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