Wed, January 05, 2011
Entertainment > Music > Michael Jackson Death Case

Jackson doctor in court over pop icon's death

2011-01-05 06:46:13 GMT2011-01-05 14:46:13 (Beijing Time)

A banner is flown over a criminal court in Los Angeles January 4, 2011. A judge begins on Tuesday preliminary court hearings in the involuntary manslaughter case against Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who is accused of being responsible for the death of pop star Michael Jackson. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

Michael Jackson's doctor was guilty of a string of failings leading to the pop icon's sudden death, prosecutors said as the physician appeared in court charged with manslaughter.

In a pre-trial hearing attended by Jackson's mother and sister LaToya, LA deputy district attorney David Walgren said Dr. Conrad Murray failed to call 911 quickly enough and did not tell paramedics what he himself had done.

The doctor, accused of administering an overdose of powerful sedatives, also performed emergency resuscitation wrongly, said Walgren, who has suggested that Conrad's lawyers will try to claim Jackson injected himself with an overdose.

"In the opinion of our medical experts they will show an extreme deviation from expected standard of care," Walgren told the Los Angeles Superior Court at the start of a two-week hearing expected to hear from some 35 witnesses.

Jackson's mother Katherine, sister LaToya and brother Jackie were all in court to hear the prosecution argue that Murray should go to a full trial for the late King of Pop's death on June 25, 2009.

Walgren told the court that Murray gave Jackson the powerful sedative propofol every night for nearly two months to help him sleep, as he prepared for a string of comeback concerts in London.

Among the first witnesses was Jackson's former personal assistant Michael Williams, who told how he received a voicemail at 12:13 p.m. from a "frantic" Murray, telling him to rush back to the estate Jackson was renting.

After ordering two security guards to return to the house as well, he described the heartbreaking moments when Jackson's children learned of their father's death.

With Jackson's body still lying in bed, he quoted Jackson's manager Frank Dileo as telling the children: "Daddy had a heart attack and died" to which Murray said: "Don't say that, we don't know."

Walgren then asked about a "strange request" from Murray to Williams.

"'Mr. Jackson had some cream in his room that he wouldn't want the world to know about. Can you ask one of the guys to go back to the house and go get it?'" Williams testified.

He said it was strange because Jackson "had just passed and it's the last thing I was thinking about."

Williams said he lied and said he didn't have his keys to avoid a confrontation with Murray, and that Murray later quietly slipped away from the gathering at the hospital and he didn't see him again.

Murray, a cardiologist, is accused of administering a potent cocktail of sedatives and painkillers to help Jackson sleep. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Walgren claimed last week that defense lawyers will say Jackson woke up that fateful night at his Beverly Hills mansion and injected himself with an overdose while Murray was out of the room.

"I do think it's clear the defense is operating under the theory that the victim, Michael Jackson, killed himself," he said.

One of Jackson's security guards, Faheem Muhammad told the court that when he approached Jackson's bedroom, Murray asked if anyone knew how to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Walgren earlier said one of Murray's failings was that he tried to perform CPR with Jackson lying on a soft bed, rather than a hard surface.

At the preliminary hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor will decide whether there is enough evidence to try Murray, 57, on charges of involuntary manslaughter -- essentially, a killing done without malice.

Jackson, the biggest pop star of his generation, died at age 50 from drug-induced respiratory arrest on June 25, 2009.

His demise shocked the entertainment world and triggered intense debate over the performer's health in the run up to the London concerts, known as the "This is It" tour.


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