Lifestyle & Belief

Michael Jackson wrongful death trial begins in Los Angeles


Rebbi Jackson, sister of the late pop star Michael Jackson, arrives at Los Angeles Superior Court where the trial of Katherine Jackson and Michael’s children against concert promoter AEG Live is being held at Los Angeles Superior Court on April 29, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Jackson heirs reportedly will ask the jury for $40 billion in damages against AEG Live.


Joe Klamar

Michael Jackson's wrongful death trial began in Los Angeles Monday; his family is suing tour promoter AEG Live for their liability in his death. 

Jackson's mother and children are accusing AEG of hiring and controlling Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving the entertainer a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol

The family's attorney Brian Panish gave his opening statements Monday morning, as fans gathered outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the Jackson family or their star-studded line-up of witnesses, or to secure one of two lottery seats open for the trial. 

“His stirring voice, his musical genius, his creativity and his generosity and his huge heart was extinguished forever,” Panish said, adding that the case was a "puzzle" for the 12 jurors to determine who held responsibility for Michael Jackson's 2009 death. 

“Michael paid the ultimate price. He died,” Panish said. “Michael has taken responsibility.”

The pop icon died just two weeks before his "This Is It" tour was slated to begin in London; the family's attorney will argue that AEG pushed Dr. Murray to administer drugs to Jackson to keep him in performing shape despite his frail health. 

The plaintiff's witness list is as much a draw to the trial as the case itself: Spike Lee, bodybuilder and "Incredible Hulk" star Lou Ferrigno, music producer Quincy Jones, singer Diana Ross, Jackson's ex-wives Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe, and Prince have all been listed to give testimony. 

Dr. Murray may also testify, though he did not at his own trial. He formally appealed against his criminal conviction on Monday.

More from GlobalPost: Michael Jackson was drinking heavily, paranoid and anxious in weeks before his death