Final arguments due at Jackson trial

2011-11-03 15:09

Los Angeles - Prosecutors and defence lawyers will present closing arguments onThursday at the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, after five weeks of testimony heavily implicating him in the star's 2009 death.

Prosecutor David Walgren, generally seen as having done a masterful job in pinning the death on Conrad Murray, will summarise his arguments as to why the medic should be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Murray's defence lawyer Ed Chernoff will then take the floor for the daunting task of convincing the seven-man, five-woman jury that Jackson was a desperate drug addict who effectively caused his own death.

The 58-year-old doctor announced on Tuesday that he would not take the stand in his own defence at the Los Angeles Superior Court, where he has been on trial since September 27.

After the closing arguments members of the jury - who have sat through more than five weeks of sometimes harrowing, sometimes bafflingly technical testimony - will retire to consider their verdict.

Wrong place at the wrong time

Murray faces up to four years in jail and could lose his medical licenses if - as is widely expected - he is found guilty of Jackson's death at the age of 50 on June 25 2009, as the star was preparing for an ill-fated comeback tour.

Jackson died of "acute propofol intoxication" at his rented mansion in the plush Holmby Hills district outside Los Angeles, where he was rehearsing for an ill-fated series of comeback concerts in London.

The prosecution claims that Murray, being paid $150 000 a month to look after Jackson, killed the star by administering a deadly cocktail of drugs to help him sleep and then abandoning him at a crucial moment.

The defence has sought to argue that Jackson would have ended up killing himself with an accidental overdose anyway, with or without the help of Murray, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But Murray's case was harmed by his own account of Jackson's final hours, given to police, in which he recounted giving a series of sedatives, including lorazepam and midazolam, in a vain attempt to help the star sleep.

Fallen out

At 10:40 on the fateful day Conrad said he gave the star 25mg of propofol - which Jackson begged for, calling it his "milk" - as a last-ditch attempt to get him to sleep.

Murray claimed he left the star for only two minutes to go to the bathroom and returned to find Jackson not breathing.

But the timeline and phone records raised a number of questions: Murray was on the phone to a series of girlfriends when Jackson was apparently dying, while the doctor delayed calling 911 for an agonisingly long time.

The prosecution also homed in on the fact that Murray said nothing to paramedics or emergency room staff about having given Jackson propofol, a surgical anaesthetic not usually used purely to help someone sleep.

The defence was also forced to drop one of its main theories - that Jackson drank propofol while Murray was out of the room - halfway through the trial, leaving only the explanation that the star self-injected the killer drug.

By the last week of the trial the defence was widely seen as in tatters, amid reports that Murray's two main lawyers, Ed Chernoff and Michael Flanagan, had fallen out.

The pair were said to disagree over whether Murray should testify himself - Chernoff arguing that he would be torn to shreds by prosecutor Walgren, while Flanagan thought the charming doctor could sway the jury at the last.