Jackson jury needs more time

2011-11-05 10:01
Michael Thurston

Los Angeles - The jury in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray failed on Friday to reach a verdict on its first day of deliberations, and will reconvene next week.

The seven men and five women went home and will resume their reflections on Monday on whether the 58-year-old medic is guilty of involuntary manslaughter over the star's June 25 2009 death.

Jackson fans had hoped for a quick verdict in the case after what the prosecution claims was an overwhelming case against Murray, while the late star's sister La Toya said she hoped the jury will "do the right thing."

But after some seven hours of deliberations, barring a break for lunch, they had not reached a decision on the sole charge Murray faces at the trial, which began six weeks ago.

"The jury has concluded deliberations for today and will resume on Monday, November 7, at approximately 08:30", said a court statement.

Jail time

Murray faces up to four years in jail if convicted over Jackson's death from an overdose of propofol, given to help him sleep at his home in Los Angeles where he was rehearsing a series of comeback shows in London.

The jury began considering its verdict after a day of drama on Thursday, when prosecution and defence lawyers presented their closing arguments at the trial, which began on September 27.

In a powerful summary, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said the 58-year-old medic caused the star's death through negligence and greed, depriving Jackson's children of their father and the world of a "genius."

Walgren, summing up an "overwhelming case" against Murray, claimed the medic invented lies to cover his tracks - namely about the timeline on the day Jackson died, or not telling paramedics what drugs he had given.

Murray above all wanted to protect his $150 000 a month salary for looking after Jackson, Walgren said, describing how the doctor agreed to treat the star's insomnia with the anaesthetic propofol against all medical advice.

Lied, deceived

"Conrad Murray in multiple instances deceived, lied, obscured, but more importantly, Conrad Murray acted with criminal negligence," the prosecutor told the jury.

Defence attorney Ed Chernoff then took the floor to claim that Murray was "a little fish in a big dirty pond," alleging that key witnesses conspired to agree on a story after Jackson died.

The defence has argued that Jackson was a desperate drug addict who caused his own death by taking more medicines while Murray was out of the room at the star's rented mansion in Los Angeles.

Chernoff hammered away at that theme in his closing argument - but also questioned the integrity of key witnesses, including Jackson's chief bodyguard Alberto Alvarez.

The defence lawyer suggested that Alvarez cooked up a story about what exactly happened with other witnesses, possibly to earn more money from media hungry for a good story.

Family nervous

The jury heard 49 witnesses in all - 33 for the prosecution, and 16 for the defence.

While jurors debated behind closed doors on Friday, the court was packed with reporters and Jackson fans waiting for any clue. But the jurors did not even ask any questions or request any testimony to be read back during the day.

Jackson's sister La Toya voiced her nervousness in a series of tweets. "I'm so shaky right now waiting for a verdict!" she tweeted. "Every little noise has me jumping out of my skin!"

Later, she said she was sure the jurors were taking the task very seriously. "I watched the jurors while N court, they were very focused, paid close attention took tons of notes!" she said.

"I pray they do the right thing."