Conrad Murray: Michael Jackson's struggles on display at doctor's trial
Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's cardiologist, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Jurors are set to hear opening arguments in his trial on Tuesday.
Jurors on Tuesday are set to hear opening arguments in the trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician, accused of administering a fatal dose of a surgical anesthetic meant to help the pop star fall asleep.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Jackson fell asleep, but he never woke up.
Prosecutors charged Dr. Conrad Murray, a Houston cardiologist, with involuntary manslaughter. They say he recklessly failed to fulfill his duty to closely monitor his patient to ensure Jackson did not stop breathing while under the anesthetic.
Defense lawyers argue that Dr. Murray fulfilled his professional responsibilities, but was faced with a patient addicted to the anesthetic that killed him, propofol. They have suggested in court filings that Jackson might have acted without Murray’s knowledge and boosted his propofol dosage beyond safe levels.
The month-long trial at the Los Angeles County Courthouse is set for televised gavel-to-gavel coverage. Many analysts expect it to reach mega-trial status, rivaling the national attention paid to the Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson trials.
If Jackson’s funeral is any measure, the TV audience could be huge. Thirty-one million tuned in to Jackson’s memorial service in July 2009. In comparison, 33 million watched Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.
The trial promises gritty insight into the real-life struggles of the man universally hailed as the King of Pop. The enigmatic 50-year-old performer had been acquitted in 2005 of child molestation charges, but was still struggling to resurrect his image in the wake of the devastating ordeal.
In mid-2009, he was hard at work preparing for what he advertised as his final performances – a series of concerts entitled “This Is It.”
His rehearsals were inconsistent. Sometimes he failed to even show up. Behind the scenes, according to defense lawyers, Jackson was fighting a running battle with various medical conditions, countering the pain and discomfort with an increasingly complex cocktail of pharmaceutical wizardry.
After his death, detectives found seven different prescription drugs at or near Jackson’s bedside. The prescriptions had been authorized by three different physicians, court documents say. Some were prescribed to pseudonyms used by Jackson apparently to mask his significant drug consumption.
It all came to a head on June 25, 2009. Murray had been treating Jackson for insomnia for the previous six weeks. Most nights he would give Jackson 50 mg of propofol diluted with another drug, Lidocaine.