Closing arguments begin in Conrad Murray trial
Closing arguments began Thursday in the trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician with a prosecutor telling jurors the evidence of the doctor’s guilt in the involuntary manslaughter case was overwhelming.
Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren told jurors it was Dr. Conrad Murray’s actions that led to the pop star’s overdose death on the surgical anesthetic propofol.
“The evidence in this case is abundantly clear ... that Conrad Murray caused the death of Michael Jackson, that Conrad Murray left Prince, Paris, and Blanket without a father,” Walgren said.
Walgren noted that the medical expert called to the stand by prosecutors and defense attorneys said doctors had an ethical and legal obligation to say no when a patient asks them to do something that could have a harmful outcome.
Yet when Jackson came to him asking to be put to sleep with propofol, Murray did not act as a physician, but as an employee, Walgren said.
Murray, Walgren said, “grossly corrupted” the hallowed doctor-patient relationship he had with Jackson.
“Michael Jackson trusted Conrad Murray,” he said. “But Conrad Murray corrupted that relationship, and for that Michael Jackson paid with his life.”
Jurors in the trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician were instructed on two theories under which they could find the doctor guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the 2009 death of his famous patient.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor told the panel they must convict Murray of the charge if they believe he either committed a legal act -- giving the anesthetic propofol as a licensed physician -– but in a criminally negligent way, or failed to perform his legal duty as Jackson’s doctor.
The seven-man, five-woman jury must unanimously agree on one theory or the other, and the underlying action by Murray that led them to that conclusion, Pastor said.
Jurors were also instructed on the dueling medical experts who gave starkly opposing testimony about what led to Jackson’s death.
The panel should “weigh each opinion against the other” and evaluate the reasons the experts gave and the facts they relied on, the judge said.
Pastor said the testimony of character witnesses -– five former patients from Murray’s Las Vegas and Houston practices -– could in and of itself cast doubt on the doctor’s guilt.
They can take into consideration testimony that painted Murray as “an attentive, informative, careful, cautious, compassionate, loyal and knowledgeable physician and has a good reputation for financial generosity and selflessness in the communities where he live or works,” the judge told jurors.
The instructions were given before a standing-room-only courtroom. Members of Jackson's family, including his parents, sister Latoya and brother Randy, squeezed in the second row of the spectators' gallery.
Murray's mother and other supporters sat across the aisle behind the defense table.
-- Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan at L.A. County Superior Court
Photo: Conrad Murray, center, stands with defense attorneys J. Michael Flanagan, second from left, and Ed Chernoff, right, before the start of Thursday's court proceedings. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / pool.