LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Michael Jackson’s personal physician acted with repeated gross negligence and incompetence while caring for the singer, giving him heavy doses of a powerful sedative and other drugs that killed him, a prosecutor told jurors today.

Opening the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is charged with involuntary
manslaughter in Jackson’s June 25, 2009, death, Deputy District Attorney David
Walgren told jurors that the pop superstar misplaced his trust in Murray, and
it led to his death.

“The evidence in this case will show that Michael Jackson literally put
his life in the hands of Conrad Murray,” Walgren told the jury. “The
evidence in this case will show that Michael Jackson trusted his life to the
medical skills of Conrad Murray. … That misplaced trust had far too high a
price to pay. That misplaced trust in the hands of Conrad Murray cost Michael
Jackson his life.”

Walgren told the panel that Murray administered levels of the sedative
propofol to Jackson equivalent to the amount used on a person under general
anesthesia for surgery. The singer also had a combination of other drugs in his
system that contributed to his death.

“The acts and omissions (of Murray) directly led to his (Jackson’s)
premature death at the age of 50,” Walgren told the seven-man, five-woman
panel.

He said the evidence would show that “Conrad Murray repeatedly acted
with gross negligence, repeatedly denied care, appropriate care to his patient,
Michael Jackson, and that it was Dr. Murray’s repeated incompetence and
unskilled acts that led to Mr. Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009.”

Jackson — who began his career as a child with his older brothers in
the group The Jackson 5 and went on to a solo career with hits including “Rock
With You,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Beat It” and “Thriller” —
was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. June 25, 2009, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical
Center.

During a hearing in January in which Murray was ordered to stand trial,
two paramedics and one of Jackson’s security employees testified that it
appeared the singer was already dead before he was taken from his rented Holmby
Hills home to the hospital.

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office later determined that Jackson
had died of acute propofol intoxication and classified his death as a homicide.

Murray, now 58, was charged in February 2010 with the felony count,
which could carry a maximum four-year state prison term. He has remained free
on $75,000 bail since then.

The cardiologist and his team of defense attorneys have maintained that
he is wrongly accused in Jackson’s death and have suggested that Jackson may
have given himself a larger, lethal dose of propofol while the doctor was out
of the singer’s bedroom.

Prosecutors have alleged that Murray administered the powerful
anesthetic to Jackson to help him fall asleep after a bout of insomnia
following a rehearsal for an upcoming series of concerts in London, then
focused part of his attention on telephone calls and text messages and failed
to properly monitor the patient he was hired to help.

Murray’s case — which is being televised and receiving worldwide media
attention — is being heard in a courtroom across the hall from where legendary
record producer Phil Spector was eventually convicted of second-degree murder
in a trial that got its own share of headlines.

The courtroom was packed to capacity as the jury began hearing the case.

Reporters from more than 30 media outlets reserved seats and a half-
dozen members of the public were chosen through a drawing outside the
courthouse — and barred from wearing anything related to Jackson or Murray
into court. Seats were also set aside for Jackson’s family and Murray’s
supporters.

Most of Jackson’s family was in court today, including his parents,
sisters La Toya and Janet and brother Jermaine.

Murray arrived at the courthouse with his mother, and as he arrived on
the ninth floor of the building, a woman tried to rush him, but she was
restrained by deputies.

Testimony is set to get under way once the attorneys finish their
opening statements.

Kenny Ortega, a director who had previously worked on Jackson’s
“Dangerous” world tour, is expected to be called as the prosecution’s first
witness.

At Murray’s preliminary hearing in January, Ortega testified that
Jackson believed before his death that “it was a good time to be able to
perform again” and that he “was excited about the historic proportions of
doing 50 shows” for fans who had been loyal to him throughout the years.

Ortega, also called as the prosecution’s first witness during Murray’s
preliminary hearing, testified then that Jackson showed up at a June 19, 2009,
rehearsal — less than a week before his death — and “didn’t seem to be well
enough to be there.” Ortega said he and others working on the concert series
went to Jackson’s home the next day for a meeting in which Murray told him that
Jackson’s health should not be Ortega’s concern.

The trial is expected to last four to five weeks.