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Conrad Murray trial: Jurors hear tape of Michael Jackson's slurred words

September 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
During opening statements of the Conrad Murray trial Tuesday, jurors heard tape of Michael Jackson slurring his words while talking about his upcoming concerts.

"The evidence in this case will show that Michael Jackson literally put his life in the hands of Conrad Murray," Deputy District Attorney David Walgren told jurors.

Get complete coverage of the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The recording was made by Murray on his iPhone, and the prosecution alleged Jackson was under the influence of some kind of drug at the time of the recording on May 10, 2009.

Jackson is heard saying he wanted those who came to his comeback concerts to say, "I've never seen nothing like this before ... he's the greatest entertainer in the world." Most people in the courtroom were visibly stunned after the recording was played.

Prosecutors were able to play the recording twice to the courtroom because of an audio issue.

Follow @abc7MurrayTrial on Twitter to get the latest updates on the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.

"It was the perfect time for the prosecution for a technical glitch because it gives them an opportunity to play that tape twice in front of the jury," said attorney J. Christopher Smith, who is not involved in the trial. "It's all about trying to influence the jury as early as you can to get on your side of the case."

Walgren portrayed Murray, 58, as an incompetent physician who used a dangerous anesthetic without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left the superstar abandoned as he lay dying.

Jurors were shown two pictures of Jackson side by side: one of Jackson at rehearsal the day before he died, and one of Jackson's lifeless body.

Walgren described the moments leading up to Jackson's death, and how Murray was on his phone several times before the death, but he didn't call 911 for 24 minutes after he discovered something was wrong with the pop star.

Read the daily journal of what's going on in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray.

Jackson died suddenly on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50, and prosecutors accuse Murray of administering a deadly dose of the powerful sedative propofol to Jackson and then failing to properly monitor him.

"That misplaced trust in Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life," Walgren said.

Many of Jackson's family members were present in the courtroom, including Jackson's father Joseph, mother Katherine, sisters LaToya and Janet, and brothers Jermaine, Randy and Tito.

As the defense began its opening statements, Murray shed tears as attorneys told jurors that he is not the greedy, callous person that the prosecution has described him as.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff described some of Murray's patients, and how he was generous with them, not charging for the full care if the patient did not have the money to pay.

The defense argued that there was nothing Murray could have done to save Jackson, saying the King of Pop took propofol after Murray left the room.

"He did an act without his doctor's knowledge, without his doctor's permission, against his orders, he did an act that caused his own death," Chernoff told jurors.

"If Conrad Murray left a sleep-deprived, propofol-demanding Michael Jackson in a room with propofol, it's exactly the same as leaving a pyromaniac in a room with matches," said Dr. Barry Friedberg, an anesthesiologist.

The prosecution called director and choreographer Kenny Ortega and AEG's co-CEO Paul Gongaware to testify Tuesday because they were in close contact with Jackson before his death.

Ortega testified that Jackson was in bad shape physically and mentally less than a week before his death.

Ortega said a meeting was called at Jackson's house where Ortega clashed with Murray, who told him to stop playing amateur psychiatrist and doctor.

"He said, 'Michael was physically and emotionally capable of handling all his responsibilities for the show,"' Ortega said. "I was shocked. Michael didn't seem to be physically or emotionally stable."

Within a few days, he said, Jackson had recouped his energy and was full of enthusiasm for the show.

In his testimony, Gongaware said he advised Jackson to hire a British doctor while he was in London.

"I didn't know Dr. Murray at all, but we were going to London and my preference would have been to hire a doctor in London that was licensed in London, that was connected there in case there were any problems," Gongaware said.

Gongaware said Jackson refused and insisted on hiring Murray anyway.

"He said, 'This is the machine. We have to take care of the machine. This is what I want: I want Dr. Murray,'" Gongaware testified.

Outside the courthouse, hundreds of members of the media and Jackson fans crowded around the building. Some showed up to condemn Murray, holding signs that read, "Doctors are expected to heal not kill."

Some showed up to condemn Murray, holding signs that read, "Doctors are expected to heal not kill."

"The family having to relive this, having to see their son painted as a drug addict who wanted to end his own life is horrible to have to witness," said Julia Jenkins, one of the few members of the public who was able to get a seat inside the courtroom.

But Murray did have a few supporters in the crowd.

"We're so grateful that this is happening with a judge and a jury so that Dr. Murray can receive a fair trial," said Beatrice Fakhrian, a Murray supporter.

The trial is expected to last five weeks, with Oct. 28 being the estimated last day.

View photos from the involuntary manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray.

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