The voice that echoed through the packed Los Angeles courtroom was low and woozy, but the ambition in the slurred words was vintage Michael Jackson.

“I want them to say, ‘I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life,’ ” he mumbled. “‘He’s the greatest entertainer of all time.’“

The grand vision to entertain millions died six weeks later with the singer. But it was resurrected Tuesday for an audience of 12: the jury in the manslaughter trial of his personal physician. The recording was the emotional crescendo in the dramatic opening day of legal proceedings anticipated since the singer’s 2009 death.

Before the lunch hour, Dr. Conrad Murray had broken down at the defense table, Jackson’s mother was weeping in the spectators’ gallery and fans had convened a prayer circle on the courthouse grounds.

Images of Jackson were everywhere – from posters fans waved for news crews to a “King of Pop” impersonator lurking in the courthouse hallway to a crime scene photo of the singer dead on a hospital gurney.

But it was in the recording that Jackson seemed most eerily present. Prosecutors, who accused Murray of killing Jackson by giving him a dangerous anesthetic, waited until opening statements to reveal the tape’s existence, and Jackson’s voice sent a shiver of excitement through the courtroom.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren told jurors forensic experts had recovered the audio file from Murray’s iPhone and that it showed the physician had taped his patient “highly under the influence of unknown agents.”

In a clip the prosecutor said was “a taste” of the full recording jurors are to hear later, a barely comprehensible Jackson appeared to say he would devote the proceeds of his planned comeback concerts to charity.

“I’m taking that money, a million children, children’s hospital. Biggest in the world. Michael Jackson’s Children’s Hospital,” he said.

As Jackson’s mother, Katherine, looked on tearfully, the prosecutor said the recording showed the doctor knew “Michael’s state” and continued procuring drugs for him.

“That is what Conrad Murray is seeing and observing on May 10, 2009, and what does he do with that knowledge and information? On May 12, he orders another shipment of propofol and Midazolam,” Walgren said.

Jackson died from an overdose of propofol June 25. Midazolam and several other sedatives also were found in his system.

In his remarks to jurors, the prosecutor said Murray compromised his professional responsibility to keep his $150,000-a-month position as concert doctor. Walgren ran through a list of actions by Murray that he said violated the standard of medical care, including using a surgical anesthetic outside a hospital and failing to call 911 when he found Jackson stricken in bed.

“Michael Jackson literally put his life in the hands of Conrad Murray,” Walgren said, adding, “That misplaced trust cost Michael Jackson his life.”

In the defense opening statement, lawyer Ed Chernoff said scientific evidence would show Jackson took his own life. The lawyer said Jackson swallowed eight tablets of the sedative lorazepam – “enough to put six of you to sleep” – and then self-administered propofol. He said Murray was out of the room at the time.

He called the combination of drugs “a perfect storm” and said no medical attention could have saved the singer.

“He died rapidly, so instantly, he didn’t even have time to close his eyes,” Chernoff said.

Chernoff suggested another doctor, Arnold Klein, bore some blame for the singer’s death. The Beverly Hills, Calif., dermatologist addicted Jackson to Demerol, sometimes injecting him with 1,000 milligrams a week, Chernoff said. He told jurors that Demerol withdrawal caused the crippling insomnia Murray treated with propofol.

The defense also challenged the prosecution’s portrait of Murray as money hungry. Chernoff said the physician was known for providing health care to charity patients in Houston.

“If you couldn’t pay, Dr. Murray wouldn’t charge you,” Chernoff said. Murray wiped away tears.

The first witness to testify was Kenny Ortega, who was directing Jackson’s “This Is It” comeback shows. Ortega said he had grave concerns about the singer’s emotional and physical health the week before his death, but that Murray told him brusquely to leave Jackson’s care to him.

Ortega said that after Jackson came to rehearsals too weak to perform, he wrote an email to a concert promoter about canceling the shows.

“Everything in me says he should be psychologically evaluated,” he said. He added, “there still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if we get him the help he needs.”