Kenny Ortega Testifies During First Day of Conrad Murray Trial
On Tuesday morning, the involuntary manslaughter trial, expected to go on for about five weeks, for Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, began in court with opening statements.
Murray's "acts and omissions" led to the singer's "premature death at age 50," deputy district attorney David Walgren said during opening statements. Prosecutors covered everything from the days leading up to Jackson's death and the phone calls Murray made the morning Jackson was found dead to showing an actual photograph of Jackson on a gurney after he died on June 25, 2009, with the word "Homicide" written above it.
Murray's lawyers, on the other hand, said that Jackson took an extra dose of anesthetic while Murray was using the restroom. Ed Chernoff, Murray's lawyer, said that the singer created a "perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly."
Following opening statements, This Is It director Kenny Ortega, taking the stand for the prosecution, claimed that Jackson was sick days before his death, noting that the singer was "very excited" about the concert. Ortega also testified that Jackson missed numerous rehearsals from mid- to late June 2009, and said that on Friday, June 19, he noticed Jackson wasn't acting right.
"My friend wasn't right," Ortega said of Jackson. "There was something going on that was deeply troubling me."
On that day, the singer, cold, left early during rehearsals; Ortega said that he fed Jackson food that the singer clearly had not eaten. An email was sent from Ortega to Randy Phillips, AEG Live CEO, saying that the singer needed help. "There is no one taking responsibility, caring for him on a daily basis," Ortega wrote in the email. "I was feeding him, wrapping him in blankets … and calling his doctor."
AEG Live co-CEO Paul Gongaware said that Jackson desired to perform in 21 more shows after selling out 10 on the This Is It tour.
Gongaware also recalled a meeting with the singer. "He was a little bit off. His speech was just very slightly slurred and he was a little slower than I'd known him to be," Gongaware said of his meetings with the singer during early stages of rehearsals.
Outside of the courthouse in Los Angeles, one fan dressed up as Jackson and some traveled from as far as Australia to have a seat inside the courtroom during the trial, CNN reports. "Even in death, Michael Jackson can draw a crowd," Los Angeles civil rights activist Najee Ali told CNN. A group called "Justice4MJ," was visible on Tuesday -- with one its leaders winning a seat for the trial on its first day -- leading the crowd in chants.