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“Murray’s finances may have played a role”: Jacksons v AEG update

By | Published on Wednesday 1 May 2013

Michael Jackson

The financial situation of Conrad Murray in 2009 was the key topic of debate on day two of the Jacksons v AEG court case yesterday.

According to Orlando Martinez, the LAPD detective who led the investigation into Jackson’s death, Murray, the doctor convicted for causing the late king of pop’s demise through negligence, had debts in excess of half a million dollars when he was hired to be the singer’s in-house medic for the AEG-promoted ‘This Is It’ live venture. He was also six months behind on mortgage payments and faced losing his home, and had various legal claims against him for unpaid child support and taxes.

This is relevant to the case, the Jackson family will argue, because these immense financial pressures meant that Murray was likely to do whatever it took to impress his new bosses, to secure the phenomenal pay package he had been offered of $150,000 per month. And if AEG was putting pressure on the doctor to ensure Jackson was well enough to perform, while Jackson himself was pushing for access to the prescription drugs he craved, that could create the environment where the medic would make reckless decisions, with fatal results.

Martinez agreed that he quickly felt Murray’s finances were relevant when he was first investigating Jackson’s death in 2009. Referring to the fees the doctor was earning at the time, he told the court, according to CNN: “That’s a lot of money for anyone. Seeing the scene and talking to him about what he had done and how he did it raised questions. Focusing on the financial aspect may have been important for Dr Murray’s willingness to disregard his Hippocratic Oath for financial gain”.

Of course this case is about whether AEG, as promoters of the ‘This Is It’ venture, and the company ultimately paying Murray’s bills, is liable for the negligent doc’s actions. On day one of the trial, AEG’s reps noted in their opening remarks how Murray had insisted to police early on that he worked for Jackson, not the live giant, even if the company paid his bills.

And yesterday Martinez confirmed that that was how Murray explained his employment, though added that when officers searched the doctor’s car they found an unsigned contract between the medic and AEG, the business card of AEG Live President Randy Phillips, and the AEG exec’s mobile number. Possibly confirming that while Jackson may have chosen and managed Murray, the doctor did have a direct link to his ultimate paymasters. Given that contact, the Jackson legal team will argue, AEG should have been concerned about Murray’s financial demands, and questioned whether the doctor’s money affairs could affect his professional judgement.

Elsewhere on day two of the proceedings, the paramedic who arrived at Jackson’s home shortly after his death recalled what happened on 25 Jun 2009. This was, in the main, familiar territory, because Richard Senneff also gave testimony in Conrad Murray’s criminal case. He recalled how, not initially realising who he was attending to when answering the 911 call, at first he thought Jackson was a hospice patient, so frail did the singer look. “He looked like someone who was at the end stage of a long disease process”, the paramedic remembered.

Though, while the singer’s mother Katherine Jackson chose to leave the courtroom for this particular testimony, the paramedic’s evidence wasn’t as dramatic as in the Murray trial. Indeed, he went on to tell how, after taking Jackson to hospital, his next job was treating an elderly LA resident who had injured herself after passing out on hearing the news of Jackson’s death.

The case continues.