x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Michael Jackson 'died so quickly, had no chance to close his eyes', doctor's trial told

Involuntary manslaughter trial of the pop star's physician resumes with revelations about singer's drug cocktail.

A Michael Jackson impersonator poses outside the courthouse during the opening day of Dr Conrad Murray's trial. David McNew / Reuters
A Michael Jackson impersonator poses outside the courthouse during the opening day of Dr Conrad Murray's trial. David McNew / Reuters

LOS ANGELES // Two days before he died, Michael Jackson appeared strong during one of the final rehearsals for his highly anticipated comeback concerts, a promoter told jurors yesterday as the involuntary manslaughter trial of the pop star's physician entered its second day.

Paul Gongaware, an executive for AEG Live, said Jackson appeared engaged and energetic during the session. Prosecutors called Mr Gongaware to highlight the importance of the performer's comeback concerts and in an apparent attempt to show that both Jackson and his physician were deeply engaged in preparations for the show before he died on June 25, 2009.

Prosecutors wrapped up their direct questioning of Mr Gongaware before the defence lawyer Ed Chernoff briefly questioned the executive. Under cross-examination, Mr Gongaware acknowledged the concert giant was being sued by Jackson's mother for negligent supervision of defendant Dr Murray when he worked with Jackson.

Dr Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson's death.

Prosecutors allege Dr Murray caused Jackson's death by providing him with a lethal dose of the anaesthetic propofol and other sedatives. Another AEG employee, lawyer Kathy Jorrie, testified about drafting a contract for Dr Murray to work as Jackson's personal physician.

"He wanted to make sure that there was somebody else available to be of assistance," Ms Jarrie said.

Prosecutors also planned to call one of Jackson's bodyguards and his personal assistant, who Dr Murray frantically called after he found the singer unconscious.

In opening statements on Tuesday, the deputy District Attorney David Walgren said Dr Murray delayed summoning emergency crews and lied to doctors and medics when he failed to reveal he had been giving Jackson the medication to try to help the entertainer sleep.

Mr Chernoff claimed Jackson gave himself a fatal dose of medication in a desperate attempt to get some sleep. He said Dr Murray had been trying to wean Jackson off propofol, but that he kept requesting it on the day he died.

"Michael Jackson started begging," Mr Chernoff said. "When Michael Jackson told Dr Murray, 'I have to sleep. They will cancel my performance,' he meant it."

He told jurors that Jackson swallowed enough of the sedative lorazepam to put six people to sleep before ingesting propofol. The combination, which Mr Chernoff called a "perfect storm" of medications, killed Jackson so quickly that he did not have a chance to close his eyes.

Prosecutors rejected Dr Murray's version and told jurors the Houston-based cardiologist also had a tremendous stake in Jackson appearing in the concerts.