After a day in which the defense attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray went on the offensive against a key prosecution witness in the physician’s involuntary manslaughter trial, the focus on Friday (October 7) turned to a recording of the doctor’s account of his actions while tending to Michael Jackson on the day the pop icon died.
During Thursday’s proceedings, attorney Ed Chernoff accused lead coroner’s office investigator Elissa Fleak of sloppy work in her investigation of Jackson’s death. Chernoff suggested that Fleak made a number of mistakes, including leaving her fingerprint on a syringe found on Jackson’s nightstand. In a sometimes heated exchange, Chernoff hammered Fleak about changes she made earlier this year to her report on Jackson’s death, suggesting that they were intended to corroborate the testimony of key prosecution witness Alberto Alvarez, who has claimed that he helped Murray gather up medical evidence at the crime scene, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Toxicologist Dan Anderson also noted that trace amounts — equal to a few drops — of the surgical anesthetic propofol were found in Jackson’s stomach. Murray’s defense team has been trying to bolster their theory that Jackson fatally injected or ingested propofol himself.
Friday’s highlights included:
» More testimony from Anderson, who sparred with Murray’s lawyer over whether the trace amount of the sedative Lorazepam in Jackson’s stomach was proof he’d swallowed the drug. According to the Los Angeles Times, defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan repeatedly suggested that there was no other explanation for how the drug ended up in Jackson’s stomach, even as Anderson said there might be a reason, but that he was not qualified to explain it. Murray has acknowledged giving Jackson two injections of the drug, but the defense team has argued that the pop singer swallowed a handful of the pills on his own without Murray’s knowledge.
» Los Angeles Police Department detective Scott Smith testified that the day after Jackson’s death, the singer’s family handed over a shaving kit containing degraded marijuana and empty bottles of the prescription insomnia drug Temazepam. He described Jackson’s bedroom as “messy” and said he found empty bottles of the anti-anxiety drugs Diazepam and Lorazepam in the room.
» While Murray has not yet taken the stand and is not expected to, on Friday, attorneys played a recorded conversation Smith had with Murray and his lawyers two days after Jackson’s death — on June 27 — that was set up at the request of Murray’s team. In it, Murray disclosed the list of sedatives and painkillers he administered to Jackson in an effort to make him comfortable enough to sleep after a day of long rehearsals for his This Is It comeback concerts. Murray admitted to giving Jackson several medications: a 2-milligram Lorazepam IV, 10 milligrams of Valium and finally, 25 milligrams of propofol. Murray claimed in the recording that he “took all precautions that were available to me” in dosing Jackson.
» Also in the recorded conversation heard on Friday, Murray never mentions that he was on the phone with friends on the day of Jackson’s death. Witness Sade Anding testified earlier in the week that she was on the phone with Murray around the time Jackson died.
Murray has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter. He faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.