The trial of Conrad Murray — the doctor who stands accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop icon Michael Jackson — got underway this morning with a notable and sad revelation: the first publicly viewed image of Jackson’s dead body.
During opening statements, prosecuting attorney David Walgren showed a photograph of Jackson rehearsing at the Staples Center on the night before his death alongside a picture of his lifeless body in a hospital bed, ABC News reports. The implication by the prosecution: Jackson’s condition could only have deteriorated so rapidly if Murray, 58, had administered an overdose of propofol, the drug that led to the “Thriller” star’s 2009 death at age 50.
That photo of Jackson’s body is being displayed in some news stories online, signaling that this trial will inevitably lead to another wave of grief and morbid curiosity regarding the music legend’s death.
Prosecutors also played an audio recording of Jackson slurring his speech in a phone message he left for Murray about a month before his death. The recording had never publicly been heard until the trial, the Associated Press notes. In video from the trial (viewable below) the recording can be heard:
Murray has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge; his attorneys contend that Jackson self-administered the dosage of propofol that killed him. If convicted, the doctor faces up to four years in prison and the potential loss of his medical license.
Kenny Ortega, a friend of Jackson’s who collaborated with him on the “This Is It” tour and also directed the movie based on that experience, is the prosecution’s first witness.