Jurors began deliberations Thursday in the Michael Jackson wrongful-death trial, potentially bringing the contentious case to a close after five months of testimony and three days of closing arguments.
The 12 jurors spent two hours in the jury room Thursday afternoon before ending their day; they will return Friday morning for more deliberations.
Katherine Jackson's lawyer delivered his final arguments in the AEG Live trial Thursday morning, delivering his rebuttal to defense closing arguments.
AEG Live's Marvin Putnam had asked jurors to find Michael Jackson responsible for his death, not the company that promoted and produced his comeback concerts in 2009.
Jackson's mother and three children are suing AEG Live, contending the company was liable in the pop icon's drug overdose death because its executives negligently hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray.
"Plaintiffs want you to hold a concert promoter liable for Michael Jackson's overdose in his bedroom at night, behind locked doors on June 25, 2009," Putnam told jurors. "An overdose of the drug administered to Mr. Jackson by his longtime doctor -- Dr. Murray -- who he'd been seeing for years, a doctor he brought to Los Angeles from Las Vegas."
"How dare they come up here and accept no responsibility and blame it all on Michael," Jackson lawyer Brian Panish said in his rebuttal.
Panish suggested that Jackson's share of blame was 20%, "but the rest goes on AEG."
When the trial began five months ago, Putnam warned he would show "ugly stuff" and reveal Jackson's "deepest, darkest secret."
The revelations that jurors heard from 58 witnesses over 83 days of testimony spanning 21 weeks included details of Jackson's drug use and his shopping for a doctor to give him the surgical anesthetic propofol that he thought would give him sleep.
"He was nearly half a billion dollars in debt," Putnam argued Wednesday. "His mother's house was near foreclosure, we didn't know that then. What else do we know now? That Mr. Jackson spent decades shopping for doctors to give him the painkillers he wanted. Mr. Jackson made sure we didn't know that."
Panish, the lead Jackson lawyer, conceded in his closing Tuesday that the singer may have some fault for his own death, but said "it's about shared responsibility."
Jackson did use prescription painkillers and was warned that using propofol at home to sleep was risky, "but he never had a problem until Dr. Conrad Murray was working and until Conrad Murray negotiated with AEG Live," Panish argued.
The AEG Live lawyer argued Wednesday that Jackson should take the full blame. "The sad truth is Mr. Jackson's death was caused by his choices and it would have happened no matter what -- with or without AEG Live."
The Jackson lawyer urged jurors to award the family between $1 billion and $2 billion in damages for what he called AEG Live's share of liability in Jackson's death -- to replace what Jackson would have earned touring, had he lived, and for the personal suffering from the loss of a son and father.
Putnam told jurors Wednesday that was "an absurd number."
Katherine Jackson testified that she filed the wrongful death lawsuit three years ago against AEG Live "because I want to know what really happened to my son."
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's propofol overdose death.
The judge is allowing a television camera in court for the closing arguments and verdict.
Burden of "Poof"
Panish -- a former college football player who has a reputation for winning large damage awards -- appeared more aggressive in his rebuttal than in his initial closing arguments delivered Tuesday.
In what may become a much-repeated video highlight, Panish joked about how his AEG LIve counterpart had accused him of making up the estimate of $59 million that MIchael Jackson could have been expected to have given his mother and children in support had he lived.
"Poof! Poof! I just made it up!" Panish said dramatically as he pointed to Putnam, sitting at the AEG Live defense table. The line and gesture drew a laugh from some jurors.
Panish showed jurors that the figure was actually from a opinion provided by a financial expert that AEG Live hired to analyze the issue.
Putnam, in his closing Wednesday, referenced the expert's lower-end estimate of $21 million. The numbers could be important in guiding the jury if it decides to award damages to the Jacksons.