Prosecution rests in Michael Jackson doctor trial

2011-10-25 08:46

Los Angeles – Prosecutors rested their case against Michael Jackson’s doctor yesterday after nearly four weeks of testimony intended to prove he was responsible for the pop star’s death.

The last of 33 prosecution witnesses in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr Conrad Murray was anaesthesiology expert Dr Steven Shafer, who wrapped five days on the witness stand by telling jurors Murray should not have given Jackson the anaesthetic propofol as a sleep aid.

“There’s very little, almost no precedent for this level of propofol exposure,” Shafer said. Medical examiners found that Jackson died from an overdose of propofol combined with sedatives.

Shafer said it was in some ways difficult to analyse the singer’s death because it was so unusual.

After prosecutors rested, Murray’s attorneys called their first witnesses in the trial.

Among the first defence witnesses was Jackson’s longtime physician, Dr Allen Metzger, who told the court he visited the singer on April 18, 2009, and that Jackson asked him about an “intravenous sleep medicine” – a possible reference to propofol, which is given intravenously.

Metzger said he was unsure what type of medication Jackson was seeking, but he did not give it to him.

Also yesterday, Metzger and nutritionist Cherilyn Lee, a nurse who treated Jackson in 2009, testified the singer had complained to them of his severe insomnia.

Defence strategy
Defence attorneys have sought to portray Jackson as highly familiar with the powerful propofol, motivated to obtain it and able to use it on himself.

Murray told police he had struggled to control Jackson’s insomnia and tried to wean him off propofol in his final days.

Murray has admitted giving Jackson propofol, the key drug that caused the Thriller singer’s overdose, but defence attorneys have argued that Jackson gave himself an extra, fatal dose of the drug when Murray was absent.

Since the trial began roughly four weeks ago, jurors have heard from several doctors who slammed Murray’s treatment of Jackson on June 25, 2009 – the day the singer died – and for not keeping records in the weeks he cared for the singer.

Prosecutors have put Murray’s defence attorneys in a quandary by presenting the doctor’s account to police of what happened in Jackson’s final hours, then pointing out glaring inconsistencies between his statements and the evidence.

For instance, Murray never mentioned to police that he was on his phone after giving Jackson a cocktail of propofol and sedatives.

But prosecutors have presented records showing Murray using his cell phone for more than 45 minutes before discovering that Jackson had stopped breathing.

Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter, faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.

Murray’ attorneys say they expect to finish presenting their case as early as Thursday.

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