LOS ANGELES — The bottles of medicine lined up in two jagged rows on the edge of the prosecution table at the end of the sixth day of the trial against the doctor charged in connection with Michael Jackson’s death.
After days of hearing about the drugs – propofol, lidocaine, lorazepam and others – there they were, in the faces of the jurors who will decide the fate of Dr. Conrad Murray. The Houston-based cardiologist has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors will work Thursday to begin explaining the interaction between the drugs to the panel of seven men and five women and how they led to the pop superstar’s death. Deputy District Attorney David Walgren told a judge he would call a toxicology expert and a coroner’s investigator to testify on Thursday.
It took Walgren more than an hour to arrange and explain the bottles with the help of a coroner’s investigator, pulling many of the bottles from a bag marked “Baby Essentials.”
The drug display came a couple hours after Walgren played a more than four-minute recording of a rambling, slurring Jackson found on Murray’s cell phone just six weeks before the singer died in June 2009.
In the call, Jackson is heard telling Murray he planned to use proceeds from his comeback concerts to build a world-class children’s hospital. After saying he hoped the patients would be spared some of the pain of his own life, Jackson’s voice is heard at the end of the recording, mumbling ominously, “I am asleep.”
Authorities contend a combination of the drugs, the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives, killed Jackson after Murray administered them. Defense attorneys have an alternate theory – the King of Pop gave himself the fatal dose when the cardiologist left the singer’s bedroom.
Many of the medications were found on the third search of Jackson’s mansion, two days after Murray spoke with detectives about the treatments of propofol and other medications to try to help the entertainer sleep. Coroner’s investigator Elissa Fleak catalogued the items, including an empty vial of propofol found on the initial search of Jackson’s bedroom, and her testimony Wednesday led to the drug lineup.
It was a visual display of what jurors had been told for days – in the weeks before Jackson’s death, he had been receiving shipments of medications in California, where his only patient was the singer.
Prosecutors appear to be in the final stages of their case, calling the investigators who pieced together the timeline of Murray’s actions on Jackson’s final day. Some of the remaining witnesses will explain how that happened; others will be brought in to explain exactly how Jackson died and try to support the prosecution assertion that Murray was reckless and distracted while giving Jackson propofol, an anesthetic intended for use in hospital settings.
Walgren played a portion of the May 10, 2009 recording of an impaired Jackson speaking with Murray during opening statements last week. The segment focused on the singer’s ambition to top all other entertainers, but the audio played Wednesday revealed both the singer’s plans for the future and his past pain.
“That will be remembered more than my performances,” he says. “My performances will be up there helping my children and always be my dream. I love them. I love them because I didn’t have a childhood … I feel their pain. I feel their hurt. I can deal with it.”