The manslaughter trial against Michael Jackson’s doctor begins its second week Monday with prosecutors furthering their examination of an emergency room physician who gave paramedics permission to pronounce Michael Jackson dead in the bedroom of his home.
Prosecutors have been laying out their case against Dr. Conrad Murray largely in chronological fashion, with witnesses during the first week of trial recounting Michael’s final performances, his interactions with fans on his last day and frantic efforts to revive Jackson.
Authorities contend Murray gave Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the singer’s bedroom in 2009.
Murray’s attorneys are presenting jurors with an alternate theory — that Jackson gave himself the lethal dose when Murray left the room.
The Houston-based cardiologist has pleaded not guilty. Murray, 58, faces four years behind bars and the loss of his medical license if convicted.
Prosecutors will continue to question emergency room doctor Richelle Cooper, who authorized the decision to pronounce Jackson dead in his rented mansion. Murray wanted resuscitation efforts to continue at the hospital. Cooper and another doctor are expected to testify about their interactions with Conrad Murray.
Cooper is the 12th witness prosecutors have called so far in the trial, which is expected to last five weeks.
Jackson loomed large throughout opening statements and testimony last week, with Deputy District Attorney showing jurors a photo of a lifeless Jackson on a gurney and playing clips of his final performances from the film “This Is It.”
Jurors also heard during opening statements a never-before-heard recording of Jackson, rambling and slurring his words, which Walgren said was extracted from Murray’s cell phone.
The physician’s phone records are a central part of the prosecution case. Prosecutors intend to show records of Murray’s phone calls and emails from the hours before Jackson’s death to show that the singer had other things on his mind — getting his $150,000 a month deal to serve as Jackson’s personal physician approved, running his medical practices and fielding calls from mistresses.
During a preliminary hearing, prosecutors showed that Murray was engaged in three phone calls in the hour before he emerged from Jackson’s bedroom and frantically told a chef to seek help.
One of Murray’s former patients, Las Vegas salesman Robert Russell, detailed one of those calls for jurors last week. Russell praised Murray in testimony, crediting the doctor with saving his life, but said he had grown distant after going to work for Jackson. Russell said he called the physician’s office seeking answers about his care on June 25, 2009 — the day Jackson died. Murray returned the message at 11:49 a.m., roughly 15 minutes before telling Jackson’s chef to call security and asking to speak to Jackson’s eldest son, Prince.
At some point during the trial, prosecutors are expected to detail the other phone calls and emails Murray fielded that day, including one to his girlfriend that was apparently made in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The exact order of witnesses is unclear. The judge overseeing the case imposed a gag order last week prohibiting either side or their spokespeople from talking about the case outside of court.