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. Popcorn

    I want JEWISH GOD to rule the world.... "JEWISH GOD". I was born disability. I want to be heal by God or Jesus.
    how can I do it if I don't know how to talk to God?

    I want God to punish malfeasance people and greedy people.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lisa

    I have to touch on a key point that was mentioned by Dr Murray himself when explaining to detectives that he left the room for only 2 minutes to go and get "rid" of the urine that was collected in the bottle over night. Now only minutes prior to that the prosecutor showed pictures of the bedroom and in particular a chair where the large bottle of urine was sitting- clearly still with urine in it. If Dr Murray left to empty out this bottle why is this still part of the evidence and still with urine in it!!!!!!!!!!!.......this is not adding up and will be very interesting to see if defence team bring that to light.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Costa

    The defense should highly emphasize that Conrad Murray can NOT get paid 150,000/month if Michael Jackson was dead. Therefore, despite the fact the Dr. Murray was an "employee", it was in the BEST INTEREST of Conrad Murray to keep Michael Jackson alive. No Michael, No pay. That's the catch phrase for the defense.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. razzi

    My four year old son's allergist just failed/chose not to to do an allergy panel on something he has been allergic to since he was an infant (seeds, raspberries, peaches, mango's). He had a severe allergy attack 2 days prior to his check-up before the test. She is a negligent doctor and a really, really huge insult to pediatric allergists in general. I am getting a new physician (looking right now). People take charge of your health...but, if something happens to my son this lady is in big trouble too.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy

      What the hell does that have to do with anything?

      September 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ronna Hertel MedicRLY

    OMG! Can't we just save LA millions of dollars and just call it! Our first job as "medical personnel" is: "FIRST DO NO HARM"!!! He's not Board Ceritified, Propofol sent to his girlfriend's address as his "Medical Office" and he's not monitoring a patient as would be in a hospital setting. BP cuff still in box and a Pulse Ox of the cheapest quality, that as a Paramedic, yes we use in the ambulance as a quick was of seeing if we need to put a patient on O2. Damn! This shouldn't even be going to trial. He should just plead guilty and save us all, especially the children and parents of Michael Jackson.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Aron

    As an Anesthesiologist, I would be called frequently by Cardiologists to administer IV Diprivan. The Cardiologists always wanted to have an Anesthesiologist around when administering the drug.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Good Stuff

    Obviously Obama is to blame. If we hadn't voted him into office, MJ would have never died.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fair&Balanced

      Of course you mean this sarcastically. Duly noted. lol

      September 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rick

    Sorry ...Michael Jacksons actions killed him....everyone forgets he was a serious manipulating drug addict....I honestly believe Dr Murray told him no and he injected himself...if I was on that jury i could not convict him at all, Dr Murray was the fall guy in all of this....and just as the Jacksons always blame someone else...TEAM MURRAY HERE>>>WISH YOU ALL THE LUCK.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fair&Balanced

      If CM had told him no, then it would have come out during the opening statements...First.

      September 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Christopher

    The fact is that Michael Jackson KNEW THE RISKS from using this drug and accepted the risks.
    That is all that matters.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Aron

    As an Anesthesiologist, Cardiologists would frequently call us to administer the Diprivan IV. They want an Anesthesiologist to watch over the patient. Anesthesiologists are familiar with Diprivan, they use it often.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sc

    This doctor in Canada was charged with manslaughter, and after six weeks of testimony, the courts decided with 4 other doctors testimony, it was ok to give used returned, untested medication that caused a death was ok.

    Blood METHADONE: 0.99 umol/L (0.31mg2/l)
    Blood VENLAFAXINE: 4.8 umol/L (1.3 mg/l)
    Blood BUPROPION: 0.37 umol/l (0.089 mg/l)
    Blood HYDROXYBUPROPION: 0.75 umol/l (0.19mg/l)
    Blood SERTRALINE: 0.18umol/l (0.055 mg/l)
    Blood TRICHLOROETHANOL: 5.8 umol/l (0.88 mg/l)
    Stomach VENLAFAXINE: 11umol/l (3.0 mg/l)

    The conclusion was that Christena’s death was caused by prescription Drug Overdose of Methadone, Chloralhydrate, & Venlafaxine. We knew Christena had not taken any illegal or illicit drugs and all the drugs in her system were doctor prescribed.

    Things that is wrong so far in Reference to Dr. James Swanney Prescribing Methadone that came out of the Coroner’s Inquest and Investigation.
    a. Swanney was not trained Federally
    b. Swanney was not trained Provincially(grand fathered in)
    c. Swanney did not know how to fill out the forms for the methadone program
    d. Swanney gave Christena someone’s else’s leftover methadone
    i. *it was given to a patient and returned which was not refrigerated or tested for contaminates
    e. The solution was premixed green not orange
    f. Swanney did not have dispensing privileges per College Of Physicians
    g. started her on 75 ml/mg methadone dispensed from his office
    i. without blood works
    ii. without physical examinations
    iii. without psychological examinations or testing
    iv. without consultation
    Swanney gave Christena psychiatric drugs but was not trained in psychiatric care
    a. same conclusions to psychiatric problems :
    i. without blood works
    ii. without physical examinations
    iii. without psychological examinations or testing
    iv. without consultation
    b. gave conclusions to depressive state
    i. without blood works
    ii. without physical examinations
    iii. without psychological examinations or testing
    iv. without consultation

    September 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. amangge

    Its going to be a media circus and the only people likely to benefit will be the lawyers!if a guilty vedict comes in,the D.A. Will probably launch a political career,whilst a not guilty verdict will probably earn the defense attorney the right to add more zeroes to his bill for subsequent clients!

    September 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |

    See ya, your not amusing me anymore

    September 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. h07sh07

    Im sure Dr. Murray was getting paid very well why would he want to kill Jackson and lose everything he had?

    September 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wisdom4u2

    I don't want to be judgmental, but this Doctor's actions caused Michael's death! There is clearly something not right with this Doctor. Just hearing Michaels voice should have been enough for Murray to just say NO to anything Michael wanted, other than rehab!!

    September 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
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