LOS ANGELES -- The case of Michael Jackson's doctor was placed in a jury's hands Thursday night after contentious legal arguments over who was to blame for Jackson's death -- the celebrity who craved sleep at any cost or the doctor accused of providing the drugs that killed him.
In final statements delivered in a packed courtroom, a defense attorney cast Dr. Conrad Murray as a victim of Jackson's celebrity, saying he would never have been charged with involuntary manslaughter if his patient was someone other than Jackson.
"They want you to convict Dr. Murray for the actions of Michael Jackson," attorney Ed Chernoff said. "This is not a reality show. It is reality."
Prosecutor David Walgren portrayed Murray as a liar and greedy opportunist who put his own welfare before that of Jackson.
"Conrad Murray is criminally liable for the death of Michael Jackson," he told jurors. "Not because it was Michael Jackson but because Conrad Murray is guilty of criminal negligence."
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor submitted the case to jurors after a full day of arguments, and he told them to begin deliberations today.
If convicted, Murray could receive a minimum sentence of probation or a maximum of four years. But he would be unlikely to serve that much time because of jail overcrowding.
Walgren, in a carefully structured argument enhanced by video excerpts of witness testimony, spoke of the special relationship between a doctor and patient, and said Murray had corrupted it by giving Jackson the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid.
He ridiculed the defense theory that Jackson had injected himself with the fatal dose of the anesthetic and denounced the testimony of defense expert Paul White, who blamed Jackson for his own death.
"What you were presented by Dr. White was junk science. It was garbage science," Walgren said.
Chernoff countered that Steven Shafer, a propofol expert who testified that evidence showed Murray killed Jackson, was wrong and overstepped his role as a scientist by becoming an advocate for Murray's conviction.