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Michael Jackson trial: Deliberations underway

September 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The judge in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial gave final instructions Thursday afternoon, and then the jury started deliberations.

Katherine Jackson's attorney Brian Panish said Michael Jackson was not ready just weeks before he was set to begin his London tour. He contended that AEG Live kept pushing forward, regardless.

Panish is asking the jury to award Michael Jackson's three children and Karherine Jackson $1.5 billion in damages in the wrongful death negligence lawsuit against AEG over the death of the King of Pop.

He has told the jury that AEG pushed the pop superstar to be ready for his planned 50-concert series in London and hired Dr. Conrad Murray as his personal physician without considering whether he was fit for the job. He said AEG hired Murray despite Jackson's known history of prescription drug abuse.

Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid as Jackson fought chronic insomnia.

During his rebuttal, Panish focused on emails between AEG executives referring to Jackson wanting Murray to care for him during the concerts in London. He also showed jurors details of a contract drafted by AEG but only signed by Murray. He said it proved that AEG wanted to control the doctor.

Panish's rebuttal came a day after a lawyer for AEG told jurors that Jackson was the architect of his own demise and no one else can be blamed. Defense attorney Marvin Putnam said Jackson insisted on hiring Murray, despite objections from AEG.

Putnam argues it was Jackson who hired Murray and that AEG bore no responsibility for the quality of care he provided. He maintains all AEG wanted was to put on a concert. AEG told Jackson there were great doctors in London but the singer would not be deterred, Putnam said.

Putnam portrayed AEG and its executives as victims of deception by Jackson and Murray. He showed excerpts from the "This Is It" documentary to show that Jackson appeared in top physical form just 12 hours before he died. He said if AEG had known about the propofol treatments, it would have pulled the plug on the planned tour.

The defense invited the jurors to view the movie. The plaintiffs told the panel, "don't bother."

"Who made the movie? AEG Live," said Panish.

Panish told the jury that the AEG defense attacked Jackson and demeaned Jackson, calling him a "freak."

The word was found in an AEG email from no one involved in the lawsuit. Panish repeated it several times. Legal analyst Barry Edwards says fiery words do stir passion, but it can cut both ways.

"Sometimes it becomes very offensive for them," said Edwards.

The defense says the law backs AEG and that Murray had a clean medical record when Jackson brought him on board and that the doctor's actions later were unforeseeable.

"They want to focus on when they hired him but it's the entire time," said Panish.

The jury will meet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday until they reach a decision. A unanimous verdict is not required in the case since it is a civil trial. Only nine of the 12 jurors must agree.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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