Saturday 17 March 2018

Defence drops claim Jackson swallowed lethal dose

Rachael Alexander in Los Angeles

Lawyers for the doctor charged over Michael Jackson's death dramatically dropped their claim that the pop star swallowed a fatal dose of the anaesthetic propofol while his physician was not looking.

The allegation had been central to the defence of Dr Conrad Murray.

Lawyer J Michael Flanagan told the judge at the LA trial that he had commissioned a study about the effects of propofol if swallowed. Findings showed that any effect from swallowing propofol would be "trivial", he said.

"We are not going to assert at any time during this trial that Michael Jackson orally administered propofol," Mr Flanagan added.

It was unclear if the defence planned to argue that the singer might have injected himself with the fatal dose.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren and the judge appeared surprised by the disclosure, which was not made in front of jurors.

Lead defence lawyer Ed Chernoff said during opening statements on September 27 that his team would try to show that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of propofol.

Dr Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors are in the final stages of their case against Murray, with three expert witnesses set to testify about their impressions of Murray's actions in the days and hours before Jackson's death.

Yesterday, Dr Alon Steinberg, a cardiologist, told jurors that Dr Murray's conduct violated the standard of care in several ways.

He said Dr Murray lacked the propofol monitoring or life-saving equipment when he was giving Jackson the anaesthetic and other sedatives.

Authorities say Dr Murray gave Jackson a fatal dose of the surgical anaesthetic in June 2009.

A medical examiner told jurors that it was unreasonable to believe that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of propofol when Murray left the room for only two minutes.


Dr Christopher Rogers, who carried out the post-mortem examination on the pop star, said it was more likely that Dr Murray gave Jackson an overdose when he incorrectly estimated how much of the drug he was giving the singer to induce sleep to fight insomnia.

Dr Rogers said the cause of death was "acute propofol intoxication and the contributing condition was the benzodiazepine effect".

Mr Flanagan spent more than two hours yesterday trying to show on cross-examination that Jackson indeed could have self-administered drugs

He suggested to the witness that once Dr Murray had started an IV drip of propofol and left the room, "it would be easy for someone to inject into that IV?"

"Yes," Dr Rogers replied.

The implication was that if Jackson was in a hurry to administer more propofol before Dr Murrray returned, he might have given himself a fatal dose.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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