September 28, 2011
Posted: 06:00 AM ET
Tuesday’s testimony in the Conrad Murray trial left all of us thinking about one person more than anyone else: Michael Jackson.
Despite Judge Pastor's admonition that this trial would not be about Michael Jackson's lifestyle, his life was front and center on Tuesday: his preparation for the tour. The stress he felt, the drugs he allegedly took or was given by Dr. Murray. These issues were discussed by both sides in opening statements as they sought to make their case. Out of everything we heard about the King of Pop, there were two moments that I won't soon forget: seeing a picture of the superstar on a gurney after his death, and hearing his words, seemingly inebriated, in a tape recording inexplicably made by his then personal doctor, Conrad Murray.
Both pieces of evidence were controversial. Let's talk about them.
First, the prosecution showed a photo of Michael shortly before and after his death. The latter showed a gaunt Michael Jackson, covered in white, lying dead for all to see, including 8 members of his family sitting in the second row of the gallery. I cannot imagine how they must have felt upon seeing that. Make no mistake, in a case like this, jurors notice how family members respond to tragedy. I wonder if they will feel like the prosecution over-stepped by putting the family through this. Seasoned lawyers will tell you this is a powerful tool for their case: it shows what Michael was at his best, contrasted with how Michael was at death because, according to the prosecution, the reckless conduct of Dr. Murray caused his death. This is understandable. Still, I can't help but wish that wasn't necessary to make the point that Michael Jackson died. Thank goodness his children weren't in that courtroom.
Next, there was the taped recording of Michael Jackson. The prosecution played this tape to show what Dr. Murray was doing to Michael Jackson. On it, we heard what sounded like an extremely intoxicated Michael Jackson, slurring his words, talking about how his "This Is It" concerts need to be phenomenal, so that he can take the money from those showes and build a children's hospital. This too must have been hard for the family to hear; some close to Michael Jackson doubted the tape's veracity, thinking that it might not have been Michael. This proved powerful for the prosecution and, as hard as it was for many to hear, I think it was necessary to play in court. Unlike the photos, there was no more powerful way to show Michael Jackson's condition without playing this tape. It left all of us stunned, chilled with the image of what happened to Michael Jackson because of these drugs. For jurors, I believe it created the sense that someone must be responsible for the singer's downfall; that's a sentiment that will help the prosecution in its case as it moves forward.
I want to hear from you on this one. What do you think about the state showing pictures of Michael Jackson after death in court? What do you think about them playing the tape recording? Let me know your thoughts. Tweet me @RyanSmithTV.
From around the web