Audio: Michael Jackson's trolley corpse and drugged-up words - dramatic start to doctor trial
A picture of the Michael Jackson's corpse on a hospital trolley and a recording of his slow and slurred voice have dominated proceedings at the start of the trial of the doctor accused of killing him.
The tape was played after prosecutors showed the photo of the dead King of Pop on a hospital trolley, as a worldwide audience watched on TV and Jackson's family looked on from inside the Los Angeles court,
In the recording, a drugged Jackson said: "We have to be phenomenal. When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world'."
Prosecutors played the audio for the first time during opening statements as they portrayed Dr Conrad Murray, 58, as an incompetent physician who used a dangerous anaesthetic without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left the 50-year-old superstar abandoned as he lay dying.
Defence lawyers countered that Jackson caused his own death in June 2009 by taking a drug dose, including propofol, after Murray left the room.
Nothing the cardiologist could have done would have saved Jackson, defence lawyer Ed Chernoff told jurors, because Jackson was desperate to regain his fame and needed rest to prepare for a series of crucial comeback concerts.
A number of Jackson's family members were in the court, including his father Joseph, mother Katherine, sisters LaToya and Janet, and brothers Jermaine, Randy and Tito. LaToya Jackson carried a sunflower, her brother's favourite flower.
The family's most emotional moment came when the prosecutor played a video excerpt from Jackson's This Is It London rehearsal in which he sang Earth Song, a plea for better treatment of the environment.
Prosecutor David Walgren noted it was Jackson's last performance.
Murray, who arrived at court holding hands with his mother, denies involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical licence.
Mr Walgren relied on photos and audio recordings to paint Murray as an inept and reckless caretaker.
He showed a photo of a lifeless Jackson on a hospital trolley and juxtaposed the image with those of him performing. He also played the recording of Jackson speaking to Murray while, the prosecutor said, the singer was under the influence of an unknown substance about six weeks before his death.
The recurring theme was Jackson's never-ending quest for sleep and propofol, the potion he called his "milk" and that he believed was the answer.
Jurors were told that it was a powerful anaesthetic, not a sleep aid, and the prosecutor said Murray severely misused it.
The prosecutor said while working for Jackson, the doctor was shipped more than four gallons of the anaesthetic, which is normally given in hospital settings.
Mr Chernoff claimed the singer swallowed several pills of the sedative lorazepam on the morning of his death and that was enough to put six people to sleep. After taking propofol, Jackson did not even have a chance to close his eyes, Mr Chernoff said.
Mr Chernoff, who had long hinted that the defence would blame Jackson for his own death, added a surprise. He claimed that Jackson died not because his doctor continued to give him the drug, but because he stopped it, forcing Jackson to take extreme measures.
"What we will hear is that Dr Murray provided propofol for two months to Michael Jackson for sleep," Mr Chernoff said. "During those two months, Michael Jackson slept. He woke up and he lived his life.
"The evidence will not show you that Michael Jackson died because Dr Murray gave him propofol. The evidence is going to show you Michael Jackson died when Dr Murray stopped."
He said Murray was trying to wean Jackson off propofol and had been giving him other sleep aids known as benzodiazepines, trying to lull him to sleep.
On June 25 2009, the last day of Jackson's life, Mr Chernoff said, he was in the third day of a weaning process and it did not work.
"Michael Jackson started begging. He couldn't understand why he wasn't sleeping.... When Michael Jackson told Dr Murray, 'I have to sleep. They will cancel my performance', he meant it," Mr Chernoff said.
Murray, in a recording of his interview with detectives, acknowledged that he relented and agreed to give Jackson a small dose of propofol.
But Mr Walgren said Murray's claim that he gave the singer a minuscule dosage was not true.
He also accused Murray of deception when he hid from paramedics and hospital emergency staff that he had given Jackson propofol. He said they were desperately trying to revive him but did not know about the drug.
Jackson's family members appeared pained as Mr Walgren described the singer as a vulnerable figure, left alone with drugs coursing through his body.
"It violates not only the standard of care but the decency of one human being to another," he said. "Dr Murray abandoned Michael when he needed help."
Following opening statements, Jackson's choreographer and friend Kenny Ortega, said Jackson was in bad shape physically and mentally less than a week before his death.
He said he sent a message to Randy Phillips, producer of the This Is It concert, telling him that Jackson was ill, should probably have a psychological evaluation and was not ready to perform.
In response Mr Ortega said, a meeting was called at Jackson's house where Mr Ortega clashed with Murray.
"He said Michael was physically and emotionally capable of handling all his responsibilities for the show," said Mr Ortega. "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.