The charge is involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of four years in jail. The defendant is Dr Conrad Murray, a physician accused of recklessly causing his patient's fatal cardiac arrest. The victim? Michael Jackson.
In room 110 of the Superior Court in Downtown Los Angeles fans, Jackson family members and the world's media spent this week hearing the case against Murray, who was being paid $150,000 to look after the 50-year-old so-called The King of Pop. There was no jury present. Instead, the proceedings, which continue next week, were a "preliminary hearing" at which Prosecutor David Walgren must prove there is sufficient evidence to hold a full trial.
He has elected to unveil almost 30 witnesses who will form the backbone of his case that Murray acted as an "enabler", who accepted an oversize salary to feed prescription drugs to his famous client. He argues that Murray recklessly gave Jackson a dangerous cocktail of sedatives to treat insomnia in the hours before his death, plus a large dose of Propofol, a strong anaesthetic, which caused a cardiac arrest on 25 June.
The irony of this, and so many other criminal trials, is that man at the centre of proceedings will most likely be the one figure whose version of events is not heard by either the public or the eventual jury.
Dr Murray sat silently in court while witness after witness emerged to cast doubt on his professional and personal integrity.
It is rare for a defendant to give evidence in a homicide trial because of the risk that they will incriminate themselves. Instead, his lawyers will seek to create "reasonable doubt" in the minds of jurors by pointing out inconsistencies in the prosecution case.
His only public statement so far has therefore been a YouTube video in which he thanks supporters and insists: "I told the truth and have faith the truth will prevail."
Richard Senneff, Paramedic
The first paramedic to reach the scene, Mr Senneff accused Dr Murray of giving misleading information about his patient, claiming Jackson was "exhausted from rehearsals" and "dehydrated". Emergency workers were not told that he had recently taken Propofol and several other powerful drugs.
"It just didn't add up," Mr Senneff said, adding that based on his dilated pupils, dry eyes and cold skin, Jackson may have been dead for more than 20 minutes by the time the ambulance arrived at 12.25pm. "My gut feeling was 'this did not just happen, it's been a period of time'."
Asked to describe Dr Murray's demeanour, Mr Senneff said he was highly agitated: "[He was] spinning ... moving around, nervous, sweating, multitasking."
Martin Blount, Paramedic
Mr Blount was in the first group of paramedics to arrive at Jackson's rented home in Holmby Hills. He told the court he saw Dr Murray take three bottles of painkillers and secrete them in a bag during efforts to revive the patient.
"I saw three small bottles of lidocaine," Mr Blount testified. "He scooped them off the floor and put them into a black bag."
This was a surprise, Mr Blount told the court: Dr Murray (who he said was "frantic" and sweating profusely) had previously insisted to paramedics that he had given Jackson no drugs whatsoever.
Like his colleague Mr Senneff, Mr Blount believes Jackson may have been dead for 20 minutes by the time paramedics arrived, based on the fact that the singer's hands and feet were already turning blue.
In a final effort to revive Jackson, Dr Murray produced a hypodermic needle and wanted to inject the patient with an unspecified substance. But Mr Blount said he and other paramedics refused to let him.
Michael Amir Williams, Personal Assistant
In a surprising move that the prosecution will claim clearly exposes his efforts to mount a cover-up, Dr Murray reportedly made a telephone call to Michael Amir Williams – who was employed as Michael Jackson's personal assistant – from the Los Angeles hospital where medical staff had just formally declared the superstar to be dead.
He wanted Mr Williams – who was still at the rented mansion in Holmby Hills – to remove still more pharmaceutical products from the scene of Jackson's fatal cardiac arrest earlier in the day.
"He (Murray) said: 'Brother Michael, Mr Jackson has some cream in the house that I know he wouldn't want the world to know about'," recalled Mr Williams.
"It was an odd question: to ask to go to the house to get the cream."
Alberto Alvarez, Bodyguard
The most damning prosecution witness so far, Mr Alvarez provided dramatic testimony about both the first aid Dr Murray performed on Jackson and his alleged efforts to remove evidence from the scene.
The bodyguard arrived in the star's room as Dr Murray attempted the kiss of life. "After the second time [Murray] gave a breath, he came up and said: 'You know, this is the first time I've given mouth-to-mouth, but I have to do it – he's my friend'."
Then Jackson's two eldest children walked in. "Paris [his daughter] screamed: 'Daddy!' and started to cry. Dr Murray said: 'Get them out. Don't let them see him like this'... I escorted them out."
Mr Alvarez told how, before calling an ambulance, Murray told him to remove various items, including an intravenous drip bag apparently containing Propofol, from the scene.
Faheem Muhammad, Guard
There were gasps in court on Wednesday when Mr Muhammad, Jackson's head of security, described Dr Murray's response to the discovery that his patient had suddenly stopped breathing.
"I remember him [Dr Murray] asking if anyone in the room knew CPR," he testified. "It was very frantic." When no one volunteered, the physician decided to perform the procedure himself.
Dr Murray is supposed to be a trained cardiologist. Yet Mr Muhammad said he appeared not know how to properly administer CPR, a basic and fundamental piece of first aid.
Jackson was given the emergency massage on a soft mattress (rather than a hard surface), and Murray incorrectly used just one hand rather than two to pump his client's chest.
Ed Chernoff, Defence attorney
Mr Chernoff is a canny defence attorney with a long and successful track record in celebrity trials. He will attempt to convince a jury that Jackson actually gave himself the drugs which caused his cardiac arrest.
Dr Murray's team say the doctor gave his patient a standard 25ml dose of Propofol at around 11am on the day he died. But blood tests indicate that the fatal dose of the drug, administered at around noon, was as much as 10 times as strong. Dr Murray denies administering this.
Mr Chernoff has already missed few opportunities in cross-examination to portray Jackson as a drug addict who overdosed after waking up to find a supply of Propofol at his bedside. He got medical witnesses to agree that his emaciated physique indicated drug dependency.
Kenny Ortega, Film director
Ortega, the director of Jackson's comeback show This is It, revealed he had decided to cancel a rehearsal on 19 June, six days before the star's death, because he looked "lost" and weak.
"It was scary. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew there was something going on," he said of the incident, which occurred at the Staples Centrr in Los Angeles.
The following day, Ortega attended an emergency meeting between singer's management and the concert's promoters. Dr Murray insisted Jackson was well enough to carry on and scolded Ortega for sending him home. "Dr Murray told me that this was not my responsibility and asked me not to act like a doctor or psychologist," Ortega told the court.
Richelle Cooper, ER doctor
When Jackson arrived at the emergency ward of the UCLA medical centre in Westwood, he was treated by Dr Cooper and her colleagueThao Nguyen, who both testified on Thursday.
There were "no signs of life", Dr Cooper recalled, adding that Dr Murray, who had travelled in the ambulance, was not forthcoming about the drugs he had previously administered: he owned up to giving his patient the benzodiazepine Lorazepam, but made no mention of the fatal Propofol, an intravenous anaesthetic.
Dr Nguyen, in her testimony, revealed that the star was painfully thin, weighing just 136 pounds. She confirmed Dr Cooper's claim that Dr Murray denied giving the star any sedatives or narcotics, aside from the Lorazepam.
David Walgren, Deputy District Attorney
The prosecutor has by and large been happy to let his witnesses speak for themselves. He has, however, provided context to the events they describe by detailing the selection of drugs Dr Murray gave to Jackson in the 12 hours before his death.
They included Propofol, Valium, Lorazepam and Midazolam. Another 13 other drugs were found at the scene of Jackson's death (and may have been administered in the previous days and weeks) along with oxygen tanks, needles, catheters and a closed bottle of urine.
Mr Walgren told the court that in the five hours before Jackson died, Dr Murray made 11 telephone calls on two mobile phones. Three of those calls were back-to-back, in the 45 minutes directly before he realised Jackson had stopped breathing.Reuse content