LOS ANGELES – After six weeks of listening, jurors in the involuntary manslaughter case of Michael Jackson’s doctor will get their first chance to talk about the case Friday.
Their discussions behind closed doors in a downtown Los Angeles courthouse could lead to the conviction or acquittal of Dr. Conrad Murray, whom the panel has heard described alternately as an inept and opportunistic physician or a naive outsider granted access into Jackson’s inner realm.
The seven-man, five-woman panel got the case Thursday after spirited, day-long closing arguments by a prosecutor and defense attorney.
A defense attorney for the doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death told jurors Thursday the singer caused his own death with an overdose of an anesthetic and his physician shouldn’t be convicted of killing the King of Pop.
“If it was anybody else, would this doctor be here today?” defense attorney Ed Chernoff asked during his closing argument at the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.
Chernoff said prosecutors hadn’t proven that Murray committed a crime by giving Jackson doses of the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid in the singer’s bedroom.
“They want you to convict Dr. Murray for the actions of Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said.
He urged the jury to closely consider Murray’s lengthy interview with police and said his words show he didn’t give Jackson the deadly dose.
Earlier, during his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren projected images of Jackson’s grief-stricken children on a giant screen and told jurors that Murray took away their father.
With Jackson’s mother and siblings watching from the courtroom gallery, Walgren showed a photo of Jackson at his last rehearsal before the picture of the three Jackson children — Prince, Paris and Blanket — at their father’s memorial.
He also reminded jurors of the scene in Jackson’s bedroom when Paris came upon Murray frantically trying to revive her lifeless father and screamed, “Daddy!”
“For Michael Jackson’s children this case goes on forever because they do not have a father,” Walgren said. “They do not have a father because of the actions of Conrad Murray.”
The prosecutor repeatedly called Murray’s treatment of Jackson bizarre and said there was no precedent for the cardiologist giving the singer the powerful anesthetic to help him sleep.
Still, Jackson trusted him and that eventually cost the singer his life, Walgren said.
“Conrad Murray looked out for himself and himself alone,” the prosecutor said.
Murray has pleaded not guilty, with his lawyers arguing that Jackson injected the fatal dose when Murray left the singer’s bedroom on June 25, 2009.
Earlier, Walgren, in a carefully structured argument enhanced by video excerpts of witness testimony, spoke of the special relationship between a doctor and patient and said Murray had corrupted it in the treatment of his famous client.
Murray violated his medical oath to do no harm and “acted so recklessly that it caused the death of Michael Jackson,” the prosecutor said.
Walgren portrayed Murray as a greedy opportunist who was more concerned with earning $150,000 a month as Jackson’s personal physician and traveling to London for his “This Is It” concert than with the welfare of his patient.
He cited evidence showing Murray did not call 911 after finding Jackson unresponsive. Instead he called Jackson’s personal assistant, a decision the prosecutor said was just one of the doctor’s bizarre actions on the day the singer died.
He suggested Murray delayed the call until he could hide medical equipment and bottles that might incriminate him.
“He’s putting Conrad Murray first. He’s intentionally not calling 911. He’s intentionally delaying help that could have saved Michael Jackson’s life,” Walgren said.
“What on Earth could motivate a medical doctor to delay making that all-important call?” he asked. “Self-preservation.”
Evan after paramedics arrived, the doctor made no mention of giving Jackson propofol because of “a consciousness of guilt,” Walgren said.
He ridiculed the defense theory that Jackson injected himself with the fatal dose of propofol and denounced the testimony of defense expert Paul White who blamed Jackson for his own death.
“What you were presented by Dr. White was junk science. It was garbage science,” Walgren said.
Chernoff countered that Dr. Steven Shafer, a propofol expert who testified that evidence showed Murray killed Jackson, was wrong and overstepped his role as a scientist by becoming an advocate for Murray’s conviction.
He said Shafer ignored Murray’s statement to police in which the physician said he gave the singer a small dose of propofol and left the room after the drug should have worn off.
“It doesn’t matter, Dr. Murray did not kill Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said.
The prosecutor played statements of several doctors who testified that they would never have agreed to give Jackson propofol for insomnia in a private home.
“The setting represents an extreme violation of the standard of care,” Walgren said. “No one ever did it until it was done to Michael Jackson. It is gross negligence and it is a cause of Michael Jackson’s death.”
At one point, Walgren suggested Murray was conducting “an obscene experiment” on Jackson.
With only Jackson and Murray present in the singer’s room on the day he died, there will be things that are never be known about his death, Walgren said. But he said it was clear that Murray, untrained in anesthesiology, was incompetent.
“Conrad Murray is criminally liable,” he said. “Justice demands a guilty verdict.”