KOMPAS.com - The highly anticipated trial into the death of Michael Jackson opened with an extraordinary moment as the prosecutor started his opening remarks by displaying a photo of the singer's dead body.
As Dr Conrad Murray appeared before the jury charged with involuntary manslaughter over Jackson’s death more than two years ago, deputy district attorney David Walgren displayed the picture that appeared to show tape or tubing over Jackson's face.
The hearing became like a circus, as opposing fans of the King of Pop and supporters of Dr Murray gathered outside the courthouse in Los Angeles waving placards and banners as the whole Jackson family made their way into court for what has been billed as the trial of the century.
Later, the prosecution played a tape of a healthy-looking Jackson giving his last ever performance - a rehearsal of his hit Earth Song - recorded a day before he died.
The lights in the courtroom were turned off and the singer was shown on a screen performing Earth Song at rehearsals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, just hours before he passed away. Jackson's mother appeared to be in tears watching the clip.
'Michael Jackson’s death was a homicide,' Los Angeles deputy district attorney David Walgren told the jury in opening statements.
'The evidence will show that Michael Jackson literally put his life in the hands of Conrad Murray... Michael Jackson trusted his life to the medical skills of Conrad Murray.
'The evidence will show that misplaced trust had far too high a price to pay... it cost Michael Jackson his life.'
But Dr Murray's defence attorney Ed Chernoff told the jury that Michael Jackson caused his own death.
Dr Murray wiped tears from his eyes as Mr Chernoff said that the evidence will show that the singer swallowed 8, 2 mg pills of Lorazepam and injected himself with a dose of propofol.
This 'created a perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly,' Mr Chernoff said.
Mr Chernoff said that Jackson, who was frustrated because he could not sleep and frustrated because his doctor refused to give him a drug that he wanted, 'did an act that caused his own death'.
‘He died so fast he did not even have time to close his eyes.' Mr Chernoff said.
Jackson's parents, his siblings Janet, La Toya, Tito, Randy and Jermaine are all at the courthouse in LA for the opening statements in the trial of the singer's personal physician, who was the last person to see him alive.
In the prosecution's opening statements, Mr Walgren insisted that the evidence will show that the 'acts and omissions of Michael Jackson's personal doctor Conrad Murray directly led to his premature death at the age of 50.'
Murray 'repeatedly acted with gross negilience, repeatedly denied appropriate care to his patient Michael Jackson and that is was Dr Murray's repeated incompetent and unskilled acts that led to Michael Jackson's death on June 25 2009,' Mr Walgren said.
The prosecutor played disturbing audio recorded on Dr Murray's iPhone of Jackson apparently under the influence of propofol a month before his death.
On the tape, Jackson sounded slurred and confused as he mumbled: 'We have to be phenomenal... When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, "I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go."'
Mr Walgren said the audio was evidence that Dr Murray knew what was happening to Jackson and should have discontinued ordering propofol.
Mr Walgren attempted to paint a picture of the days leading up to the singer's death. On June 19th 'Michael showed up for his rehearsal and he was not in good shape, he was not in good shape at all,' Mr Walgren said.
'He had chills, he was trembling... he was rambling.'
Kenny Ortega, the manager of Jackson's proposed This Is It tour, expressed concerns about Jackson, but Dr Murray allegedly told him and others that Jackson was 'physically and emotionally fine'.
'Don't let it be your concern, I am the doctor,' Dr Murray allegedly said.
The prosecutor also laid out the order of events from inside Jackson's house on the night that he died. Mr Walgren accused Dr Murray of failing to call 911 as soon as he realised that there was something wrong with Jackson.
He said that an emergency call was not made until 12:20pm, at least 24 minutes after Dr Murray is believed to have discovered Jackson unconscious. The prosecutors claimed that phone records showed that Jackson was left unattended for too long.
'It will be clear that Conrad Murray abandoned Michael when he needed help,' Mr Walgren said.
'It was Conrad Murray's gross negligence, it was Conrad Murray's unskilled hands and his desire to obtain this lucrative contract of $150,000 a month that led Dr. Murray to not only abandon his patient, but to abandon all principles of medical care.'
Mr Walgren also showed images of Jackson's bedroom to show how medical monitoring devices typically used when someone is under anesthesia were not there or appeared unused.
A blood pressure cuff was still in a box and an oxygen tank had no oxygen, Mr Walgren said. But as the defence made their opening statements, Murray wiped away tears as Mr Chernoff described the doctor and Jackson as 'friends first'.
'Dr Murray is no celebrity doctor. He is a cardiologist. He literally saves lives. That's who he is,' Mr Chernoff said.
He said that on the day he died, Jackson had told Murray that he not slept for 10 hours and that if he did not sleep he would not be able to rehearse and would disappoint his fans. Dr Murray agreed to give him a 25 mg injection of propofol mixed with lidocaine.
Mr Chernoff said that such a small dose would 'dissipate in ten minutes'.
He said that the amount found in Jackson's body, more than 100 mgs, was consistent with major invasive surgery and was administered by Jackson himself.
Jackson 'self-administered an additional dose of propofol and it killed him like that, there was no way to save him,' said Mr Chernoff. His death was a tragedy, he added, but Murray is not responsible. Murray is 'not perfect... but in this criminal court, we believe he is not guilty,' he added.