Saturday 17 March 2018

'Long, lonely' weekend for Murray as Jacko jury out

Guy Adams in Los Angeles

IT was a long and no doubt lonely weekend for Conrad Murray, the physician catapulted to global notoriety two-and-a-half years ago when his client Michael Jackson suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on the eve of what was supposed to be his final comeback tour.

On Friday, a jury at Los Angeles Superior Court retired to consider its verdict after a six-week trial in which Dr Murray was accused of acting as an "enabler" who accepted an inflated salary to recklessly fuel his famous patient's addiction.

Having spent the weekend mulling over the testimony of 49 witnesses (along with 300 items of evidence), the seven men and five women who will decide Dr Murray's fate are scheduled to meet today to continue formal deliberations.

In the court of public opinion, not to mention among the legal pundits who have been helping broadcasters make sense of the trial, Dr Murray has already been found guilty as charged.

The circumstantial evidence against him seems persuasive; compelling, even. His defence team has been amateurish; the prosecution steady.

Dr Murray stands accused of "involuntary manslaughter", one of the milder forms of homicide, which in California carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

The jury may decide that eyewitness accounts of Dr Murray's actions immediately after Jackson fell ill, which included taking 20 minutes to call an ambulance, as well as misleading paramedics about the drugs in his system, constituted a level of professional negligence sufficient to produce a guilty verdict.

If they are unswayed by those lines of argument, their outcome of the trial will instead come down to a simple question: which of two star expert witnesses who gave evidence about propofol they choose to believe.

One is Dr Steven Shafer, a leading anaesthesiologist who believes levels in Jackson's blood and urine suggest that he was killed by an amount consistent with an intravenous drip.

The other, Dr Paul White, called by the defence, argued that the blood and urine samples suggest that a single, large dose killed Jackson. Dr White believes the singer administered that dose himself.

Dr Murray's team hope his testimony will cast sufficient doubt to secure an acquittal.

Irish Independent

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