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Michael Jackson / Conrad Murray in the news > Michael Jackson's family unites as Murray trial nears end

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24 Oct 2011


Michael Jackson's family unites as Murray trial nears end

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 12:13 PM EST, Mon October 24, 2011

The defense is expected to begin presenting its case later Monday.

Murray's lawyers have said they plan to call about 15 witnesses, including three medical experts, a police officer and several of Murray's patients from his clinics in Las Vegas, Nevada and Houston.

Randy Phillips, the head of AEG Live, is set to be among the first witnesses the defense calls.

Murray's lawyers have argued that Jackson was pressured by Phillips, whose company was promoting his comeback concerts in London, to show up healthy and on time for rehearsals or else the tour might be canceled.

Murray told detectives Jackson begged for his "milk," his nickname for propofol, after a sleepless night and just hours before he died from what the coroner said was an overdose of the surgical anesthetic.

Murray, in a police interview, said he was using sedatives to wean Jackson from propofol, which he had used almost every night for two months to fight his insomnia. But after a long, restless night and morning, the lorazepam and midazolam had no effect, Murray said.

"I've got to sleep, Dr. Conrad," Murray said Jackson pleaded to him. "I have these rehearsals to perform. I must be ready for the show in England. Tomorrow, I will have to cancel my performance, because you know I cannot function if I don't get to sleep."

Murray said he gave in to Jackson's pleas and gave him an injection of 25 milliliters of propofol around 10:40 a.m.

Shafer testified last week that there was no way Jackson got only that amount of propofol, based on the high level of the drug found in blood taken during his autopsy.

The "only scenario" to explain Jackson's death was that he overdosed on propofol infused through an IV drip set up by Murray, Shafer said.

The Los Angeles County coroner ruled that Jackson's death was a homicide, the result of "acute propofol intoxication" in combination with sedatives.

The defense contends Jackson self-administered the fatal dose, along with sedatives, without Murray knowing.

Shafer said the level of propofol in Jackson's blood taken during his autopsy could not have been from either Murray or Jackson injecting the drug, but only from an IV system that was still flowing when his heart stopped.

Prosecutors, however, opened the door for one scenario in which Jackson, not Murray, could have triggered the overdose.

"Can you rule out the possibility that Michael Jackson manipulated something to cause it to flow?" Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked Friday.

"That's a possibility," Shafer said. But that is assuming Murray set up the drip and left Jackson's side, he said.

Would Shafer's opinion that Murray was responsible for Jackson's death change if he knew Jackson turned the drip on?

"No, if Michael Jackson had reached up, seen the roller clamp and opened it himself, this is a foreseeable consequence of setting up an essentially dangerous way of giving drugs," Shafer said. "It doesn't change things at all. It would still be considered abandonment."

Defense lawyer Ed Chernoff cross-examined Shafer about the assumptions he used to reconstruct an IV drip system he believed Murray set up next to Jackson's bed. Shafer demonstrated the system in his testimony Thursday.

Jackson died because Murray failed to notice that his patient had stopped breathing while he was hooked up to the IV drip of propofol, Shafer testified. The doctor should have realized Jackson had stopped breathing, he said.

"When you're there, you see it, you know it," Shafer said.

Phone records and testimony showed that Murray was on the phone with one of his clinics, a patient, and then a girlfriend about the time that Shafer calculated the oxygen in Jackson's lungs became depleted, causing his heart to stop beating.

"Had Conrad Murray been with Michael Jackson during this period of time, he would have seen the slowed breathing and the compromise in the flow of air into Michael Jackson's lungs, and he could have easily turned off the propofol infusion," Shafer said.

Toxicology studies of drugs in Jackson's blood and computer models Shafer used to analyze how the singer died were overshadowed Friday when Chernoff focused on the personal and professional rivalry between Shafer and Dr. Paul White, the defense anesthesiology expert.

The experts first met in 1978 when White was an assistant professor at Stanford University and Shafer was a medical student. They became friends and co-authored research papers, but this trial appears to have changed their friendship.

Chernoff accused Shafer of wanting to "shove it down his (White's) professional throat" in a question stricken from the record by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor.

White, who has been sitting in the courtroom listening to Shafer's testimony, was lectured by Pastor about comments about Shafer attributed to him in an online blog.

White admitted Friday that he told a reporter that he had changed his opinion of Shafer after hearing his testimony Thursday. "The truth will come out. It always does," E! News Online quoted White as saying.

White denied calling Shafer "a scumbag," as the website quoted him as saying.

Pastor, who imposed a gag order on all parties in the trial, set a contempt of court hearing for White next month. 

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