Prosecutor details allegations against Jackson’s doctor

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles prosecutor outlined the case against Michael Jackson’s doctor for the first time, detailing a list of troubling actions by Conrad Murray that allegedly caused the June 2009 death of the king of pop.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren Tuesday levelled the litany of charges on the first day of a preliminary hearing, after which a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for Murray to stand trial on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Walgren alleged that Murray gave Jackson a dangerous mix of medications on the night he died, and then left him unattended.

Murray performed ineffective CPR, delayed calling emergency responders and tried to hide from paramedics and emergency room doctors that he had given Jackson a powerful sedative usually used as a hospital anaesthetic, Walgren told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor.

“The court will learn that in the opinion of these medical experts, there were a number of actions displayed by Murray that showed an extreme deviation from standard medical care,” Walgren said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The first witness in the case was Kenny Ortega, who was directing Jackson’s comeback tour and who told the court how he had been next confronted by Murray and the concert promoter for allowing Jackson to skip rehearsal when he appeared to be feeling unwell a few days before his death.

“Murray told me that this was not my responsibility and asked me to not act like a doctor or psychologist … and leave Michael’s health to him,” he said.

He clarified, however, that Jackson soon recovered and appeared in high spirits before his death.

Jackson’s assistant, Michael Amir Williams, testified about the scene he confronted when Murray called him after Jackson stopped breathing.

He said Murray left a “frantic” message saying Jackson “had a bad reaction”. When Williams got to the house, he said, Jackson’s two children were watching resuscitation efforts, and Murray asked him to clean up medication from Jackson’s room that “he wouldn’t want the world to know about”.

Murray has pleaded not guilty in the case, with his lawyers likely to claim that someone else - possibly Jackson himself - injected the legendary singer with the fatal dose.

Jackson died June 25, 2009, just as he was about to embark on a sold-out comeback tour. He was 50.

Coroners found that Jackson died from an overdose of propofol, a hospital anaesthetic that the chronic insomniac was using as a sleep aid. Murray was acting as his personal physician, paid $150,000 a month by Jackson’s concert promoters to look after the frail pop star.

Some 30 witnesses are expected to take the stand at the preliminary hearing.

Legal analysts said that because the burden of proof in such hearings is much lower than in regular trials, it was highly probable that the judge would give the go-ahead for a full trial to begin later this year.

Involuntary manslaughter refers to a killing done without malice, where the accused fails to act with due caution. Murray faces a maximum of four years in prison if found guilty.

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