As Dr. Conrad Murray prepares to offer a defense in the case of the death of Michael Jackson, it appears that the walls of both the justice system and the court of public opinion may be closing in around him.
Murray, 57, was Jackson’s personal physician. Jackson reportedly paid Murray $150,000 a month to care for him, and yet Murray’s actions around the time of Jackson’s passing have come under increasing scrutiny.
This week, Jackson’s bodyguard Alberto Alvarez testified in a preliminary trial that on June 25, 2009, he entered a room in Jackson’s house and saw Jackson in what seemed to be a frozen state, with his mouth and eyes open. In potentially very damaging testimony against Murray, Alvarez testified that the doctor told him to help him hide a bag that contained vials and pills by putting it into a canvas bag.
In March of 2010, it was reported that Murray did not disclose to paramedics who arrived at the scene that Jackson had Propofol, an extremely powerful sedative, in his system. He allegedly told the paramedics that he had given Jackson the less powerful Lorazepam.
Further complicating Murray’s defense is the fact that cellular phone records indicate that he was on at least three personal phone calls during the time that Jackson is believed to have been struggling for life.
The legal case against Dr. Murray will ultimately need to stand on its own merit. However, the tide of public opinion increasingly has been turning favorably towards Michael Jackson in the year and a half since his passing.
While his later years were marked by accusations and innuendo, increasingly mainstream outlets and institutions have recognized his work and honored his legacy…and that cannot be good news for Murray either.
Jackson’s posthumously released album, entitled Michael, has been released to both commercial and critical success…commercial success within the context of the modern music industry anyway.
Among other things, Disney has re-opened Caption EO, its Michael Jackson theme ride, and Facebook based groups dedicated to Jackson tributes have appeared.
While no amount of album sales or popular culture attractions will make a case that a man is guilty, the fact is, Michael Jackson’s life and behavior is being given a second look in many quarters. Through the more objective lens of history, formerly held beliefs about Michael Jackson and his lifestyle are being reconsidered.
Conrad Murray will be presumed innocent until, and unless, he is proven guilty. But as the testimony mounts and Michael Jackson’s fan base continues to rally, Murray’s future is very uncertain.