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Michael Jackson took drugs that 'killed him instantly,' doctor's lawyer says

Dr. Conrad Murray 'acted with gross negligence' in Michael Jackson's death, the prosecutor said in opening arguments, but the defense said the pop star ingested a lethal 'perfect storm' of drugs.

Conrad Murray listens to the prosecution's opening arguments in his involuntary manslaughter trial at Superior Court, Tuesday, in Los Angeles. Murray has pleaded not guilty and faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death.

Al Seib/AP

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Exhausted and unable to sleep amid the mounting pressures of a fast-approaching comeback concert, pop superstar Michael Jackson gave himself an accidental overdose of drugs that killed him instantly, a defense lawyer said in opening statements Tuesday at the trial of Mr. Jackson’s personal physician.

Defense attorney Edward Chernoff told the jury of seven men and five women that his client, Dr. Conrad Murray, did not administer a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol to Jackson in June 2009.

Instead, he said, Jackson was taking prescription medications behind Dr. Murray’s back, and gave himself a final propofol dose with Murray out of the room. The drugs created a “perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly.”

“When Dr. Murray found him, there was no CPR, or doctor, or paramedic, or machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson,” Mr. Chernoff told the jury in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. “He died so rapidly, so instantly, that he didn’t even have time to close his eyes.”

Murray, a cardiologist, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly giving Jackson a fatal dose of propofol while attempting to help Jackson overcome persistent insomnia and get some much-needed rest.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren pounded away at Murray’s actions in the final hours of the pop legend’s life.

“Conrad Murray repeatedly acted with gross negligence, repeatedly denied appropriate care to his patient Michael Jackson,” Mr. Walgren said. “It was Conrad Murray’s repeated incompetent acts that led to Mr. Jackson’s death.”

In a surprise move, Walgren played a portion of an audio recording Murray made of Jackson on his iPhone apparently during one of their sedation sessions.


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