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Final arguments: Murray trial update

By | Published on Friday 4 November 2011

Conrad Murray

So, the jury are deliberating. Well, they will be later today, after hearing closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defence in court yesterday. Yes, it’s the final chapter of the Conrad Murray trial in which the defendant is accused of causing the death of Michael Jackson through negligence.

Both sides closed their arguments with some emotive words yesterday. According to the Daily Telegraph, David Walgren for the prosecution told the jury: “The evidence in this case is overwhelming. It is absolutely clear that Conrad Murray acted with criminal negligence, that Conrad Murray caused the death of Michael Jackson, that Conrad Murray left Prince and Paris and Blanket without a father. For them this case does not end today, tomorrow or the next day. For Michael Jackson’s children this case will go on forever because they do not have a father”.

Recognising that Murray was, in many ways, simply responding to Jackson’s demands in giving him the surgical anaesthetic propofol as a sleep aid, and possibly conceding that the jury may be sympathetic to the defence’s theory that the singer self-administered the actual fatal shot of the drug, Walgren stressed that to be found guilty Murray’s negligence only needed to be a “substantial factor” in the late king of pop’s demise. By which he meant, whatever actually happened on the day Jackson died, Murray should never have agreed to give his patient propofol in a domestic environment, or left him with such easy access to the dangerous surgical drug he so clearly craved.

Reminding jurors of all the other medical practitioners who appeared during the trial, some presented by the defence, who all said they’d never have given Jackson propofol as a cure for insomnia, Walgren continued: “A doctor has a solemn obligation first to do no harm to their patient. Conrad Murray violated that sacred duty each and every day. Conrad Murray sought payment for services rendered, the services being supplying propofol to Michael Jackson in his bedroom nightly for two months”.

He added that while Jackson was – as the defence has claimed – anxious about his planned 50 night residency at The O2 in London, he was in good health, giving energetic performances at rehearsals. And while he may have suffered from insomnia, that didn’t mean Murray had to treat him in such a dangerous way.

Noting that Murray left the room after administering the surgical anaesthetic despite there being no monitoring equipment in use, Walgren continued: “Michael Jackson trusted Conrad Murray, trusted him with his life, trusted him with the future lives of his children, trusted that as he slept Conrad Murray would watch over him so that when he awoke he could share a meal with his children. Conrad Murray corrupted that relationship and Michael Jackson paid with his life”.

For the defence, Ed Chernoff told the jury that the prosecution were asking them to convict his client for Michael Jackson’s actions. He added that the fact Murray was facing these charges was in itself unfair, and that if his patient hadn’t been the king of pop this whole matter would have been handled by a state medical board not a criminal court. He also again referenced other doctors working for Jackson prior to his death, who may or may not have been giving him other prescription medications, implying Murray found himself in an impossible situation created by other medics. Or, in Chernoff’s words, Murray was “just a little fish in a big, dirty pond”.

Rebutting Chernoff’s closing remarks, Walgren said the defence were just trying to blame everyone but Murray for their client’s actions. If this trial had gone on long enough, he joked, “I am sure they would have found a way to blame Michael’s son, Prince”.

Jury deliberations will begin later today.