Michael Jackson's eldest children watched their father die on the bedroom floor, surrounded by oxygen tanks, drug paraphernalia, crumpled sheets, and a cuddly toy, according to evidence given yesterday at the trial of his personal doctor, Conrad Murray.
The singer's former bodyguard, Faheem Muhammad, recalled the dramatic moment when arrived in the upstairs bedroom where Jackson had been taken ill. His son, Prince Michael and daughter, Paris, were standing in the doorway. "They weren't quite inside the room," Mr Muhammad told the courtroom. "Paris was on the ground, balled up, and crying." Her brother was "slowly crying," he said. "Prince... he was standing there. He just had real shock... on his face."
Jackson was lying on the floor on the far side of a large bed. The bodyguard noticed that Dr Murray was standing over his patient, "nervously" trying to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). After realising the severity of the situation, Mr Muhammad called the children's nanny and had them removed from the scene. Shortly afterwards, he realised that Jackson, 50, had died.
The macabre evidence came on day two of Dr Murray's trial, at Los Angeles Superior Court. The personal physician is accused of involuntary manslaughter in relation to his client's death, a crime which carries sentence of up to four years in prison along with the loss of his medical licence.
During the course of proceedings, which saw the prosecution call a string of former associates who had been with Jackson in the run up to his death on 25 July 2009, the court was shown photographs of the room where he died. On the bed were prayer beads, an open incontinence pad, a children's doll, and what appears to have been a tourniquet. Jackson received CPR on an area of floor, covered by a beige carpet. It also contained an oxygen tank and an air pump.
Bedside tables contained latex gloves, surgical tape, and devices for administering drugs, along with more a selection of more mundane items including an unopened water bottle, some DVDs and a glass of orange juice.
The prosecution alleges that Dr Murray was paid $150,000 a month to act as an "enabler", who fed his client's addiction to prescription drugs, including the anaesthetic Propofol, which caused his fatal cardiac arrest. They claim that after giving him the medication, to help combat insomnia, he failed to properly monitor the patient.
After Jackson had been pronounced dead at hospital, Dr Murray is accused of attempting to cover his tracks. Earlier yesterday, the singer's former personal assistant, Michael Amir Williams, told how the doctor asked to be driven back to the scene of his death. Dr Murray claimed at the time that he needed to get "some cream that Michael [Jackson] wouldn't want the world to know about". Mr Williams, who suspected him of attempting to interfere with evidence, refused to give him a lift.
The defence cross-examined all witnesses, probing for inconsistencies. They argue that Murray is a "scapegoat" who was trying to wean Jackson off prescription drugs. The singer helped himself to the fatal dose of Propofol, they claim.