Monday 11 December 2017

Jackson-trial doctor refuses to testify in his own defence

Both teams of lawyers rest their cases

Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles

THE doctor accused of the manslaughter of superstar Michael Jackson has declined to testify as both the prosecution and defence rested their cases yesterday.

Asked by the judge whether he wanted to take the witness stand in his involuntary manslaughter trial, Dr Conrad Murray replied: "My decision is that I will not testify in this matter, judge."

Dr Murray had said previously that he was still undecided about testifying.

His decision means that the only time the jury has heard from him was in a two-hour tape of a police interview he gave two days after Jackson's death in June 2009.

Defence and prosecution lawyers later rested their cases after more than five weeks of evidence and 49 witnesses. The judge set closing arguments for tomorrow.

Dr Murray denies involuntary manslaughter, or gross negligence, in the case. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

He was caring for Jackson at the singer's Los Angeles mansion when the 50-year-old was found not breathing just a few weeks before a planned series of London comeback concerts.

Dr Murray admits giving Jackson a small dose of propofol as a sleep aid. But his lawyers have sought to convince the jury that the singer somehow gave himself an extra dose of the drug without Dr Murray's knowledge, thus causing his own death.

Jurors have heard from more than half a dozen doctors, including one called by the defence, who said propofol is normally used to sedate patients for surgery and should not be given in a home setting where there is a lack of back-up personnel and medical equipment.

Propofol expert Dr Paul White, the defence's last witness, yesterday said that it was not always necessary to have all the commonly accepted monitoring equipment on hand. He cited plastic surgery centres as an example.


But rival propofol expert Dr Steven Shafer took a different view. "If there was such a thing as bedroom-based anesthesia, the standard guidelines would be considered a minimum," Dr Shafer said yesterday.

"Because there's no back-up, there's no tolerance for error. If you have an error, you'll have a mortality."

Earlier, Judge Michael E Pastor temporarily suspended proceedings after Dr White, attempted to introduce evidence previously ruled inadmissible.

The Los Angeles Superior Court Judge fined Dr White $1,000 (€730) for violating an order not to mention in his testimony conversations he had with Dr Murray, information the judge had previously ruled was inadmissible evidence.

He has already been reprimanded by the judge for allegedly whispering "scumbag" to journalists during the testimony of prosecution witness, and former colleague, Dr Steven Shafer. Dr White denied making the remark.

After a line of questioning by prosecutor David Walgren involving propofol use in Michael Jackson's house, Dr White referenced the conversations after having first been admonished by the judge earlier in the session.

"Well, Conrad Murray certainly purchased propofol, but I understand Mr Jackson had his own supply as well," said Dr White, referring to information gleaned during conversations with Murray.

"Really?" asked David Walgren, prosecutor.

The exchange prompted Mr Walgren to accuse Dr White of using "rehearsed lines" on the stand, which defence lawyers objected to.

Dr White then continued to reference the conversation despite orders not to.

"As I indicated, I've had two lengthy conversations..." he said.

"Will the court admonish the witness?" asked Mr Walgren.

Judge Pastor then excused the jury and reprimanded the witness, in an exchange that was not televised.

Irish Independent

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