After five months, jurors on Tuesday began hearing closing arguments in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. The pop superstar's mother accuses concert promoter AEG Live of contributing to his untimely death. AEG denies the allegations.
Brian Panish, lead attorney for Jackson's mother, told the panel that the case has always been about “negligent hiring, retention, or supervision.”
"They chose to run the risk and make a huge profit,'' Panish said. "But they lost and they are responsible.''
Panish said the promoter of Jackson's planned "This Is It" concerts failed to adequately vet Dr. Conrad Murray before agreeing to let him be the star's doctor for rehearsals and the subsequent tour.
Panish argued that AEG Live, in hiring Murray, didn’t consider that the doctor was in dire financial straits. Further, as a cardiologist, he was unskilled in treating sleep disorders and drug addiction, the attorney said.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic drug propofol, which a jury found led to his death on June 25, 2009. Panish told jurors that Jackson had a history of prescription-drug abuse.
Murray was sentenced to four years in prison, but could be released as early as October.
Katherine Jackson, the pops star's mother, says AEG drafted Murray’s contract. She’s seeking damages that could reach more than $1 billion.
AEG Live has denied that it hired Murray. The entertainment firm’s attorney, Marvin Putnam, said the cardiologist had been one of many doctors who had treated the singer in the past.
The closing arguments by the defense are expected to go on through Wednesday and the jury could begin deliberations by the end of the week. Only 9 of 12 jurors on the panel need to agree on a verdict.