The trial of the doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death opened Tuesday in Los Angeles. Dr. Conrad Murray, Mr. Jackson’s personal physician, was charged with involuntary manslaughter for the singer’s death. If convicted, Murray, 58, faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical licence.
Medical examiners have determined that Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, was due to an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and sedatives. Propofol is usually administered intravenously, often during surgery. Medical experts are expected to testify about the drug’s effects, as well as how a trace amount of the drug was found in Jackson’s stomach.
Defence lawyers representing Dr. Murray, a Houston cardiologist who was paid $150,000 a month by Mr. Jackson; say the singer swallowed an extra dose of the anesthetic when the doctor was in the washroom. Mr. Jackson, who called the anesthesia his “milk,” suffered from insomnia and depended on the drug to sleep.
The prosecution, meanwhile, will try to prove that Dr. Murray was grossly negligent by administering too much of the drug and doing so outside of a hospital setting, without life-saving equipment nearby.
Multiple witnesses, including security guards, paramedics and emergency room doctors are to be called. The trial is expected to last up to five weeks, and will be televised and broadcast online.
Jackson, who was 50 at the time of his death, was readying himself for a series of planned shows in London called “This Is It.”