Michael Jackson images dominate opening of death trial

Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:18pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Images of Michael Jackson lying dead in a hospital and rehearsing the day before his death, along with recollections of the singer as a troubled "lost boy," made for a heart-wrenching opening on Tuesday to the manslaughter trial of the doctor hired to care for him.

In opening arguments two years after Jackson's death by drug overdose of propofol and sedatives, prosecutor David Walgren told jurors the "Thriller" singer "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 said.

But Murray's lawyers argued Jackson "caused his own death" by giving himself extra medication in a bid to sleep. "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 denies he is guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of Jackson on June 25, 2009, but admits giving the 50-year-old pop star a dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid. He faces a prison sentence of up to four years if convicted. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

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

Kenny Ortega, the co-director of the concerts, testified that Jackson was excited about the shows because he wanted his young children to see him perform.   Continued...

<p>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. REUTERS/Al Seib/Pool</p>