8 Oct 2011
Conrad Murray Trial, Day 9: Doctor Told Police He Gave Jackson Propofol in Hours Before Death -- Update 3
Friday's proceedings in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray ended in typical showbiz fashion -- with a cliffhanger.
In the later part of the day, the court heard audio of an interview that Murray held with police two days after Jackson's death. In the interview, Murray told detectives that he had administered propofol -- which was determined to have killed Jackson -- to the singer in the hours before his death. This, despite earlier testimony from paramedics responding to the 911 call at Jackson's house, and the attending physician at UCLA Medical Center, that Murray didn't mention propofol when asked what drugs Jackson had taken.
Earlier in the day, there was tension in the courtroom, as defense attorney Ed Chernoff aggressively grilled coroner's investigator Elissa Fleak, snapping at her as she testified -- which earned him an admonishment. Murray's defense team was less successful in trying to rattle Los Angeles Coroner's Office toxicologist Dan Anderson, who refused to answer questions in a way that the defense would have preferred, and rebuffed their efforts to get him to answer questions outside of his area of expertise.
As for the bombshell police interview, jurors will continue to hear it when the trial resumes on Tuesday morning -- which should give everyone time to recover.
Until then, read on for an in-depth rundown of the day's events.
Update, 2:45 p.m. PT
At Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter interview Friday, the court heard an audio recording of a police interview with Murray, in which the doctor admitted to giving propofol to Michael Jackson on the morning of his death.
During the interview -- which occurred two days after Jackson's death -- Murray told Los Angeles Police Department detectives that he administered 25 milligrams of the sedative to the singer at about 10:40 a.m. on June 25, 2009. Murray told police that he administered the drug, at Jackson's request, after doses of lorazepam and midazolam failed to put Jackson to sleep throughout the night.
According to Murray, Jackson asked for the drug by the nickname "milk."
In previous testimony, paramedics responding to the 911 call at Jackson's home on June 25 and the attending physician at the emergency room at UCLA medical center said that Murray didn't tell them about propofol. Jackson's autopsy indicated that he had died of a propofol overdose.
In the audio of the police interview, Murray recounted the hours leading up to Jackson's death, starting with his arrival at Jackson's home at 12:50 a.m. on June 25, to tend to Jackson. The singer showed up shortly thereafter, telling Murray that he was unable to sleep. As various medications failed to work, Murray told police, Jackson increasingly complained that he would have to cancel the next rehearsal if he couldn't sleep, potentially putting his upcoming tour of England behind schedule.
In the audio of the police interview, Murray recounted the hours leading up to Jackson's death, starting with his arrival at Jackson's home at 12:50 a.m. on June 25, to tend to Jackson.
Murray told police that the singer showed up shortly thereafter, telling Murray that he was unable to sleep. As various medications failed to work, Murray told police, Jackson increasingly complained that he would have to cancel the next rehearsal if he couldn't sleep, potentially putting his upcoming tour of England behind schedule. Eventually, at Jackson's request, Murray agreed to give him propofol, he told police, which succeeded in putting him to sleep.
According to Murray, at one point he left Jackson's side to go to the bathroom, and came back to discover that Jackson didn't seem to be breathing -- at which point, he said, he began making ultimately unsuccessful attempts to revive the singer via CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
On the audiotape, Murray also told detectives that he had given Jackson proposal virtually every day, after he began treating him a little more than tow months before Jackson's death. According to Murray, did so after Jackson, who told him it was the only thing that helped him sleep, suggested it. In the police interview, Murray said that Jackson told him he had previously been given propofol by Dr. David Adams in Las Vegas.
Murray went on to tell police that, fearful that Jackson was developing an unhealthy propofol habit, he tried to wean the singer off of the drug in the three days before his death. According to Murray, with Jackson's reluctant cooperation, he began to reduce the level of proposal while relying more on lorazepam and midazolam. Murray said that the day before Jackson's death, they had successfully eliminated propofol from the drug equation. However, on the third day of the treatment -- the day Jackson died -- lorazepam and midazolam alone failed to help him sleep.
Update, 12:17 p.m. PT
Prosecutors in the involuntary homicide trial of Michael Jackson's physician Conrad Murray played an audiotape of the interview that police detectives conducted with Murray on Thursday.
As Los Angeles Police Department detective Scott Smith (pictured) -- who was present for the interview -- sat on the stand, the court heard a snippet of the interview, which took place at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey on June 27, 2009, two days after Jackson's death.
In the first few minutes of the tape, Murray's defense attorney, Ed Chernoff, stressed that he wished to keep the contents of the interview out of the media.
Smith attempted to reassure Chernoff, telling him, "I hope you understand that none of the circus that's been going on has been coming from us."
In the interview, Murray tells police that he first attended to Jackson in 2006, on the recommendation of the son of one of his patients, who was on Jackson's security detail. Murray was called in due to a flu that was affecting Jackson and his family.
After treating Jackson on and off for a few years, Murray said, he was called by the singer about two months before his death, to attend to him during a string of upcoming comeback concerts in London. Murray noted that, while Jackson hired him, he later learned that he was to be paid by concert promoter AEG.
Court is currently in recess, with the playback of the audiotape to resume when the session continues.
Earlier, Smith testified that he had retrieved a number of empty drug bottles from Jackson's master bathroom, including for temazepam, valisone ointment, lorazepam and diazepam.
As Smith's testimony -- and accompanying photos -- indicated, Jackson's master bathroom was "extremely messy" on the day of his death, with open drawers, debris strewn on the floor, and cluttered counters.
Also retrieved from the home, according to Smith: a small amount of "degraded" cannabis, which was originally thought to be tar heroin.
During Smith's testimony, the court also saw video footage of Murray leaving the hospital and wandering in the emergency parking lot of the UCLA Medical Center on the afternoon of Jackson's death.
Update: 10:45 a.m. PT
Los Angeles coroner's office toxicologist Dan Anderson continued his testimony from Thursday, and what ensued was a morning of verbal tussling between Anderson and Conrad Murray defense attorney Michael Flanagan.
Flanagan continuously tried to get Anderson to answer specific questions about the effects and meaning of the drugs and drug amounts found in Michael Jackson's body, while Anderson repeatedly told Anderson he was "going beyond my scope of expertise."
The defense team was trying to get Anderson to comment, specifically, about the amount of lorazepam (brand name: Ativan, used to treat insomnia) found in Jackson's stomach, which the defense team hopes will ultimately show Jackson was not so out of it that he couldn't have administered medication to himself when Murray left his room.
Flanagan, failed, however, to get Anderson to answer his questions in a way Flanagan was happy with, and, ultimately, in a way that is likely to be understood by the average person, including the jury.
Judge Michael Pastor finally instructed Flanagan to move along to a different line of questioning, and Flanagan was dismissed from the witness stand.
Yesterday's major witness, coroner's office investigator Elissa Fleak, was called back to the stand. During her testimony, Chernoff questioned her aggressively. At one point, while reviewing a photo of Jackson's bathroom which appeared to show a toilet, Chertoff asked snappishly, ""Does this look like a toilet to you? Do you know what toilets are used for?" The attorney was admonished for being argumentative.
As Fleak was preparing to leave the stand, Chertoff attempted to suggest that Fleak may have been holding back on the court, asking, "Miss Fleak, is there anything else you need to tell us? Is there anything that you neglected to tell us in the last two days?" Chertoff was again admonished for being argumentative.
A toxicologist from the Los Angeles coroner's office will resume testimony today about the drugs found in Michael Jackson's system to begin the ninth day of proceedings in Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial.
The doctor who performed Michael Jackson's autopsy and ruled his death a homicide, Dr. Christopher Rogers, is among the potential witnesses, as is Los Angeles police detective Orlando Martinez. The court will break on Monday for Columbus Day.
Read more: Conrad Murray Trial, Day 8: Prosecution Grills Coroner's Office Employees
Martinez interviewed Murray after Michael Jackson's June 25, 2009 death. Murray told Martinez he'd been administering propofol to Jackson for two months as a sleep aid, and jurors may finally hear the recording of the two-hour interview Martinez conducted with Murray.
Coroner's office toxicologist Dan Anderson took the witness stand on Thursday, and described the drugs found in Jackson's system during the autopsy. The drugs included propofol, lidocaine, diazepam, nordiazepam, lorazepam, midazolam and ephedrine, he said.
The Los Angeles County coroner ruled Jackson died of "acute propofol intoxication," and that sedatives were also a factor. Prosecutors contend Murray is criminally liable for Jackson's death because he recklessly administered the propofol, a potent surgical anesthetic drug, and was negligent in properly monitoring Jackson.
Read more: Juror Questionnaire for Conrad Murray Trial Rife With Drug and Celebrity-Related Questions
Anderson also testified about the various drugs found in medical implements in Jackson's bedroom, including propofol and lidocaine in a syringe found on a table near the singer's bed, and propofol, lidocaine and flumazenil found in a different syringe and IV tubing found in the bedroom four days after Jackson died.
Anderson also testified that Demerol was not detected in Jackson's system, which is significant. During opening statements last week, defense attorney Ed Chernoff suggested the reason Jackson needed propofol and other drugs administered by Murray to sleep was because he had been receiving shots of Demerol from Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein.
The early part of Thursday's proceedings revolved around the testimony of coroner's office investigator Elissa Fleak, who weathered aggressive questioning by Chernoff about her note and photo-taking practices before finally admitting that no criminal investigation is conducted without mistakes.
CNN.com reported that defense and prosecution sources say the trial should go to the jury within the next two weeks. Murray faces up to four years in prison and loss of his medical license if convicted.