[Los Angeles Times]

Final arguments in the nearly five-month Michael Jackson wrongful death trial began Tuesday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom where jurors will be asked to decide whether one of the country’s most powerful entertainment firms is responsible for the pop star’s drug overdose death.

Attorneys for Jackson’s mother and three children were trying to convince jurors that concert producer and promoter AEG Live pushed Jackson to pull off a comeback tour even as his mental and physical health were deteriorating and hired the Las Vegas doctor who gave the singer a fatal dose of a powerful anesthetic as he rehearsed for the doomed “This Is It” tour.

AEG Live’s attorneys claim it was Jackson who brought Dr. Conrad Murray aboard as his personal physician. Murray, now serving jail time after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter, refused to testify in the wrongful death trial.

AEG negotiated Murray’s $150,000-a-month deal, but neither Jackson nor his representatives saw a draft of the contract. Murray signed the contract the day before Jackson died in June 2009, but his is the only signature on the contract.

The entertainment firm contends the money that was to be used for Murray’s monthly salary was actually part of an advance to Jackson.