The case of the People of California versus Conrad Murray began this week. The prosecutor came out slugging hard. First, after setting out the theory of their case in opening statement, that Dr. Murray gave Michael Jackson a lethal dose of Propofol, an intravenous anesthesia used for surgery, to help Jackson sleep and failed to monitor Jackson after administering the lethal dose. Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter which means he committed an unintentional, unlawful killing with an act so egregious, so reckless that the likelihood of death or great bodily harm would occur.
The DA began with showing photographs of Michael Jackson’s lifeless body on a gurney and an audio of Michael speaking so slowly that his voice was unrecognizable. The prosecution is attempting to portray Murray as knowing that Michael was on other prescription drugs, all while giving him the acute Propofol intoxication, according to the coroner. In the first week, the trial reveals the chaos in the bedroom following the death o, the attempts by Murray to cover up the use of the Propofol and the delayed calling of 911.
The defense has only given an opening statement, briefly focusing on their defense that Michael Jackson was responsible for his own death by injecting himself with the lethal dose. The state has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Murray and his defense team do not have to prove anything. Yet, with the stakes so high, the defense will attempt to show reasonable doubt by portraying Jackson as a drug addicted, sleep deprived maniac who would do anything to get sleep.
The trial is expected to last anywhere form 5-6 weeks. So it’s way too early to know the twists and turns it may take. Here’s a few things to look for in the coming weeks:
- Does Murray’s prior statement to detectives support his present theory?
- What evidence will the doctor use to show Jackson injected himself with the lethal dose?
- Do Murray’s actions immediately following the death of Michael Jackson, hiding use of the Propofol show signs of guilt?
- Will medical experts testify that use of Propofol, an anesthesia, as a sleep aid and lack of monitoring equipment in a controlled clinical setting is reckless?
At this early stage of the trial, all signs point to Murray’s guilt. Dr. Murray repeatedly gave Michael Jackson an anesthesia for 2 months before his death as a sleep aid. That’s like putting someone under general anesthesia every day for 2 months. Dr. Murray’s team will have a lot of work to do through cross examination and any evidence to show that he was not the culprit.
No matter what happens in the trial, “this is it”. And it’s sad, no matter what the outcome, that a pop icon, the likes of which will never be seen in most of our lifetimes again, is dead. And this is it.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer and political/legal commentator seen on national and local media including CNN, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, XM Sirius radio, NBC , ABC and CBS -Washington, DC affiliates, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post and Politic 365.