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November 9, 2011

Did MJ foreshadow his own death?

Posted: 09:15 PM ET

Michael Jackson is considered one of the greatest songwriters to ever make music. His lyrics were laced with stories of pain, deception by women and pleas for a better world.  One subject rarely covered in his catalog was drugs.

That was until 1997 on his remix album, “Blood on the Dance Floor.” “Blood” is widely considered Jackson’s darkest album, and was a change of pace for the artist, following his admission of addiction to pain killers in 1993 and child abuse allegations the same year. The track that best embodies this shift in Jackson’s mood is a song titled “Morphine.”

It’s a haunting song, solely written, composed, and produced by Jackson. The song seems to rebuke untrustworthy handlers and deceptive women at first; but in the hook, Jackson gets to the subject at hand. Singing from the perspective of morphine, Jackson pleads:

Trust in me

Just in me

Put all your trust in me

You're doin' morphine

Jackson then goes a step further as he sings about the drug’s effect. The most jarring section of this song, which is over six minutes long, shifts from a focus on morphine to another highly addictive drug, Demerol.

Relax

This won't hurt you

Before I put it in

Close your eyes and count to ten

Don't cry 

I won't convert you

There's no need to dismay

Close your eyes and drift away

Demerol

Demerol

Oh God he's taking

Demerol

Demerol

Demerol

Oh God he's taking Demerol

He's tried

Hard to convince her

To be over what he had

Today he wants it twice as bad

Don't cry 

I won't resent you

Yesterday you had his trust

Today he's taking twice as much

The section about Demerol also makes a huge shift in mood. Jackson goes from a hard rock sound to a ballad, as if singing a love song about the drug.

During Jackson’s autopsy in 2009, it was discovered that Jackson had prescription meds in his system. Part of Dr. Conrad Murray’s defense is that Jackson’s insomnia was caused by an addiction to Demerol, and Jackson was so desperate for sleep, he gave himself the anesthetic propofol to get to sleep. During court on Thursday, Dr. Robert Waldman, an addiction specialist for the defense testified, “I believe there’s evidence he [Michael Jackson] was dependent on Demerol.” Waldman also testified that Jackson was given large doses of the drug while being treated by his longtime dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein.

Could Jackson have been trying to make his fans aware of a Demerol addiction as far back as 1997? Was this song a cry for help? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


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Filed under: Conrad Murray • Drugs • Michael Jackson


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November 3, 2011

The Best Protest Signs of the Conrad Murray Trial

Posted: 11:37 AM ET

Where there are protestors, there are protest signs. Each day there have been a number of supporters outside the courthouse, fighting for both sides of this trial; some being pro Conrad Murray and others passionately pleading for justice for Michael Jackson.

While taking photos outside of the courthouse I set out to find, what I consider the best protest/support signs seen outside the courthouse since the start of trial. Some will make you cry others will make you laugh.

Check out HLNtv.com to see the rest.

Complete courtroom coverage of the Conrad Murray trial airs live on HLN from gavel to gavel. It’s also on In Session on truTV from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET every weekday.

- In Session Associate Producer Keith Lovely JR

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Filed under: Behind the Scenes • Conrad Murray


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August 4, 2011

Warren Jeffs Rests His Case

Posted: 12:48 PM ET

With less than an hour of arguments today from Warren Jeffs, the polygamist sect leader on trial for sexual assault silently rested his case. This comes after a bizarre day of testimony yesterday.

Day 5 of the TX v Warren Jeffs trial began with Warren Jeffs, asking for what he calls Constitutional protection based upon his belief that he represents a religious organization.  His request was immediately denied.

During testimony, the prosecution established how Warren Jeffs married a 12-year-old girl who is the daughter of one of his followers.  The child was watched over by Jeffs most of her life.  Public records show the jury learned that Jeffs was involved in assigning jobs for the Jessop family and was the principle at Alta Academy, the FLDS school the girl attended.

The prosecution’s most damning evidence against Jeffs is an audio recording of Jeffs allegedly having sex with the child.  That recording was played in court yesterday.  On it, Jeffs can be heard saying the child’s full name, leaving no doubt as to who is in the room with him.  As the tape was played, jurors also heard heavy breathing and talking, including Jeffs asking, "Does it feel good?" and a child’s voice responding "Yes, thank you." The prosecution also claims that three of Jeffs other so-called “celestial wives” were present when the recording was made. The recording ended with Jeffs saying, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen," and the child  repeating, "Amen."

While listening to the tape, several jurors held their heads in their hands, some covered their mouths.  One woman could be seen wiping away her tears with tissue. The state rested its case after playing the explosive audio.

Jeffs then began his defense with a 30-minute sermon, used as an opening statement.  After that, Jeffs called his first and only witness, J.D. Roundy, to the stand.  Roundy is a member of the FLDS and was present each day for the trial. Jeffs questioned Roundy for four hours, which basically amounted to Jeffs having his witness explainthe tenets of their faith, in an attempt to establish his claim for religious freedom. On cross examination, prosecutor Eric Nichols asked Roundy a series of questions meant to discredit Jeffs' assertions that his actions were based on his beliefs.

"Have you ever instructed girls how to prepare themselves to have sex with you?" Nichols asked Roundy.

"No."

"Have you ever engaged in sexual relations with a 15 year old?"

"No."

"Have you ever had sexual relations with a 12 year old?"

"No."

After a brief re-direct questioning of Roundy that spanned the end of yesterday’s proceedings and the early part this morning, Jeffs was told to call his next witness.  He refused to say anything and the judge then rested the case for him.  Right now, both sides are getting 30 minutes for closing arguments.  After that, the judge will give the jurors instructions and they will decide whether Warren Jeffs is guilty of sexual assault.

-Keith Lovely Jr., In Session Associate Producer

-Jim Kyle, In Session Field Producer

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Filed under: FLDS • Warren Jeffs


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August 3, 2011

Bleeding the Beast: Polygamist sect accused of abusing welfare

Posted: 08:33 AM ET

In discussions about Warren Jeffs and the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) church the topic of “bleeding the beast,” or taking advantage of government money, often comes up.  A former polygamist sect member, Laurie Allen, talked about it in an interview on In Session. Allen produced "Banking on Heaven," a documentary about the FLDS under Jeffs’ leadership.  During our interview last week, Allen claimed the FLDS collects food stamps and other forms of public assistance because many of the women technically are still single.  In the FLDS, multiple women are often “celestially married” to one man, with only one of the women being legally married to their collective husband. That means the other illegitimate wives can collect assistance for themselves and their children.

Allen said the group also collects government assistance for children with disabilities – disabilities she attributes to inbreeding in the FLDS community. She claims “in the state ofArizonaalone, they’re getting between 20 and 30 million dollars a year” and most of the members “are living off taxpayer money.”  She interviewed former Attorney General Terry Goddard in her documentary. Goddard told her 80% of the FLDS members are on welfare and more than 4,000 of them have state medical insurance access.

In 2006, CNN’s Randi Kaye wrote a blog detailing how polygamy affects taxpayers. In the blog, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff made a similar assertion, stating "their religious belief is that they'll bleed the beast, meaning the government. They hate the government, so they'll bleed it for everything they can through welfare, tax evasion and fraud."

Another example of bleeding the beast involves property taxes. In 2005, a judge appointed an accountant to help collect more than a million dollars in overdue property taxes from polygamist property owners living inColorado City,Arizona. Six years later, the group is said to owe more than $2 million in delinquent property taxes inColoradoCityandHildale,Utah.

Keith Lovely Jr. – In Session Associate Producer

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Filed under: FLDS • Warren Jeffs


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October 26, 2010

Billings’ daughter describes screams

Posted: 03:00 PM ET

Pensacola, FL - A tearful Ashley Markham, one of the Billings’ daughters, took the stand and gave a first hand account of how she learned her family was in trouble in the evening hours of July 9, 2009.

"He was just screaming into the phone," explains Markham of the reception she received after calling her parents’ house and getting her brother on the other end of the phone. Markham would eventually get another sibling on the phone and learn of the trouble her parents were in.

Unfortunately, her parents, Byrd and Melanie Billings, were killed that night. Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr. is on trial for the murder of Ashley's parents. There are seven other co-defendants.

Stay tuned to In Session for more coverage of the Florida v. Gonzalez trial.

- Keith Lovely Jr., In Session Associate Producer

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Filed under: Death penalty • Trial Updates


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Money was murder motive, prosecutor says

Posted: 01:53 PM ET

Pensacola, FL – Opening statements began today in the Florida v. Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr. trial in Pensacola, Florida. State attorney Bill Eddins accused the defendant of killing the Billingses for millions of dollars he believed Byrd Billings kept in a family safe.

The prosecution says the 36-year-old defendant knew Byrd Billings casually and targeted the family to steal their money. Gonzalez is accused of fatally shooting Byrd Billings, 66, and his wife Melanie, 43, in their Beulah, FL home in July 2009.  Gonzalez Jr. is one of eight people arrested in connection with the killings. Gonzalez faces the death penalty in this case if found guilty.

-Keith Lovely Jr.,  In Session Associate Producer

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Filed under: Death penalty • Trial Updates


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June 25, 2010

VERDICT: Cynthia Monson guilty, sentenced to life for killing ex-girlfriend

Posted: 04:22 PM ET

On March 19th 2010 in the trial of FL versus Monson, a jury found defendant Cynthia J. Monson guilty of the charge of first-degree murder.  Cynthia Monson fatally shot her ex-girlfriend of twelve years five times but tried to fight the charges against her by pleading self-defense. Monson claimed that she was only protecting her life and the lives of her children as her estranged lover, Patricia Thomas came to her house and not only threatened to kill her but also to take “their” adopted children.  Cynthia Monson adopted two children while dating Thomas and though Thomas wasn’t considered a parent legally, she helped Monson raise both children as well as spent time with Monson’s four other children. The on again, off again relationship soured and unfortunately ended in death On January 17, 2009.

A little over a year later, Monson was stoic as she learned her fate. After about 3 hours of deliberation and a guilty verdict Monson was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In the courtroom, her children were shocked, bowing there heads as they listened to the verdict.

 – In Session Associate Producer Keith Lovely Jr.

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Filed under: Trials • Verdict!


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June 23, 2010

Florida's gay adoption debate

Posted: 05:20 PM ET

Cynthia Monson who was in an on again, off again relationship with Patricia Thomas, adopted two children early on in their relationship. Monson adopted the children alone because it is illegal in Florida for homosexuals to adopt children, but the couple had an agreement that the children were “theirs.”

When their relationship deteriorated, Thomas believed she had rights to see the children. Unfortunately, their custody dispute ended in death as Monson, feeling threatened by Thomas, shot and killed her.

The FL v. Monson case adds to the debate on gay adoption in Florida. Florida is currently the only state in the U.S. with an outright ban on homosexual adoption. Gay couples are allowed to be foster parents but are barred from permanently adopting the children. Recent statistics show that in Florida alone, there are more than 3,000 children waiting to be adopted and another 25,000 children living in foster care.

In 2008 a Florida judge ruled the ban was unconstitutional and allowed Martin Gill, a gay man, and his partner to adopt two foster children who have been in their care for more than five years. The state immediately appealed the ruling and is still awaiting a ruling from the Third Court of Appeals. The topic is a hot-button issue in the state of Florida and the debate on lifting the ban will not lose steam any time soon.

Elections for Florida’s next attorney general could have a massive impact on whether the ban will be challenged again in the near future or whether Florida will continue with its status quo.

- In Session Associate Producer Keith Lovely Jr.

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Filed under: Trials


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June 14, 2010

Bi-polar manic depressive speaks on mental illness

Posted: 12:51 PM ET

So far the Iowa versus Becker trial has shed light on the seldom understood problems of mental illness and the consequences of not receiving proper help. This case affected an In Session viewer so much, she wrote us offering to share her story. Michele Madonna Lindsey is a bi-polar manic depressive with psychosis who experiences delusions and hallucinations just like defendant Mark Becker.

Lindsey joined Vinnie Politan for an on-air interview detailing her first-hand experiences in dealing with the altered reality that comes with her mental illness.  She also weighs in on what might have been going through Becker's mind the morning of the shooting. To learn more about Michele’s struggle with mental illness, check out her book called "Michele's Mind: Inside the Brain, Heart, and Soul of a Bi-polar Manic Depressive."

- In Session Associate Producer Keith Lovely Jr.

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Filed under: Trial Updates • Trials


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May 17, 2010

Church graveyard has "Baby Row"

Posted: 03:12 PM ET

Oregon City, Oregon – During case research, it was discovered that the Followers of Christ Church have a section of their private cemetery dubbed “baby row.” It is there that about 60 children, including four members of the Beagley family are buried.

Buried family members include: Jeff Beagley’s cousin, Scott Beagley, who died at two years of age in 1962,  26-year-old Jacqueline Beagley, and Jeff and Marci Beagley’s grandchildren, still born “Baby Boy Worthington, and 2-year-old Ava Worthington.

According to a 1999 document, there were 18 deaths of Followers of Christ children in that decade that were likely preventable. Compared to the general population, FOCC children’s death rate was 26 times greater.  Also according to a Time magazine article in 1998, 78 minors have been buried in the graveyard over the span of 35 years.

– Keith Lovely Jr, In Session Associate Producer

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Filed under: Trials


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 This is your online home for In Session on truTV’s up-to-the minute, comprehensive coverage of legal issues, trials and news from America’s courtrooms.  Our anchors, analysts and producers are teaming up here to give you updates on the stories that matter to you.

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