The trial of Michael Jackson's personal physician

Conrad Murray Jury Also Had to Judge Jackson

In deciding whether Dr. Conrad Murray caused the death of singer Michael Jackson, the jury also had to consider Jackson's character and actions.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    What the jury must consider in the case of Michael Jackson's personal physician.

    If jurors deliberating the fate of Dr. Conrad Murray did not realize it before, they did once they began deliberations: They would have to judge not only the accused doctor, but also his patient, the late megastar Michael Jackson. 

    Conrad Murray Trial: Juror Profiles, LAPD Interview, Testimony Timeline

    For Jackson's medication death, Murray's jury was to weigh one count of involuntary manslaughter.

    "Somebody's got to say it. Somebody's got to tell the truth," defense attorney Ed Chernoff told jurors during his closing argument. "If it were anybody else but Michael Jackson, would this doctor be here today?"

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    "Don't be fooled by statements of Mr. Chernoff that the only reason this case is here is because (of) Michael Jackson," replied prosecutor David Walgren, who said Murray's administerng Jackson the surgical sedative propofol as a home sleep aide was nothing less than an "obscene pharmaceutical experiment."

    Walgren told jurors the evidence pointed to Murray leaving Jackson unattended on an IV drip that ultimately led to his inability to breathe.

    But the defense attributed culpability to Jackson himself, rejecting the drip and contending that Jackson took pills of the sedative lorazepam and injected himself with propofol while Murray was not watching. 

    "They want you to convict Dr. Murray for the actions of Michael Jackson," Chernoff told jurors.

    "To some degree, the trial has denigrated into a kind of character assassination of Michael Jackson," said attorney Mark Geragos, who represented Jackson during the early stages of the
    molestation case in which Jackson was later acquitted.

    In this case against Murray, the prosecution argued to jurors that even if they believe the defense theory, Murray's gross negligence still was a substantial factor in Jackson's death, the standard spelled out in the jury instructions. 

    "It does not have to be the only factor that causes death," Judge MIchael Pastor read to the jurors Thursday before final arguments.

    "I don't know if the case will turn on the jury instructions," said Dermot Givens, a private attorney who has been following the case and serving as an analyst for NBC4. "But the prosecutors clearly won the battle with what jury instructions were going to be given."

    The defense still saw room to argue Jackson's responsibility.

    "Was Dr. Murray supposed to watch Michael Jackson to save him from himself at all times?" Chernoff said. "At what point do you draw the line about Dr. Murray's.. responsibility for a grown-up?"

    In evaluating the evidence, the jurors must weigh conflicting expert testimony.

    "These are qualified experts, colleagues, who are saying the exact opposite things," observed Steve Cron, another private attorney providing analysis for NBC4. "So how do you decide which one to believe?  That can take a while. And I wouldn't be surprised if they want to have some of the expert testimony read back, to compare what Dr. (Paul) White said, versus what Dr. (Steven) Shafer said."

    Jurors do not have to examine all of the exhibits entered into evidence.  But if they do, that, too, could take some time.  There are more than 300. 

    But in the end, it comes down to whether the prosecution convinced all of the jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that, regardless of jackson's role, it was his personal doctor who was criminally responsible.

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