The second day of testimony from defense witnesses in the involuntary manslaughter trial of former Michael Jackson doctor Conrad Murray included claims by one of the singer’s former nurses that MJ demanded she provide him with the surgical anesthetic propofol.
» Cherilyn Lee, nurse practitioner
» Brandon Phillips, president and CEO of AEG Live
» Michael Henson, toxicologist and technical operations officer for Pacific Toxicology
» Nurse/ holistic medicine practitioner Cherilyn Lee testified that Jackson became frustrated with her attempts to treat his insomnia with natural remedies such as herbal teas and vitamins, insisting that only a propofol-like drug could work. Initially open to her suggestions, Lee said Jackson became “upset” as time went on and repeatedly asked for her to give him propofol. Her testimony came a day after Jackson’s longtime internist, Allan Metzger, testified that during the same period just before his death, Jackson had also asked him for intravenous anesthetic to help his insomnia. Lee had never heard of propofol, but after looking it up, she said she warned Jackson not to use it.
» Lee’s testimony was briefly halted after she complained of feeling dizzy and burst into tears in the courtroom hallway; she returned to the stand a short time later. Reading from Lee’s record, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked if she recalled telling Jackson, “Nobody who cared or had your best interest at heart is going to give you this.” She said she did.
» Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor dealt a blow to the defense when he barred testimony about Jackson’s contractual obligations to This Is It concert promoter AEG Live. Pastor said the details could potentially distract the jurors, despite arguments from Murray’s defense team that the 42-page document would show that the singer was under tremendous financial pressure to pull off the 50-concert comeback series in London. Defense attorney Ed Chernoff said in court that if Jackson had been unable to perform, he would have to repay more than $30 million at a time when he was $400 million in debt.
» Phillips’ testimony centered on his experience with Jackson during the meetings and rehearsals for the This Is It series of concerts, at which Jackson insisted he be allowed to bring Murray to care for him personally.
» Phillips recalled Jackson being disconnected and distracted and that the show’s choreographer, Kenny Ortega, suggested to him in an email that he consider canceling the shows due to Jackson’s seemingly questionable health. Phillips said Jackson addressed those concerns during a meeting between himself, Ortega, Jackson and manager Frank DiLeo, during which Jackson told Ortega the show must go on. “You build the house and I’ll put on the door and paint it,” Phillips recalled Jackson saying to Ortega.
» Henson took the stand briefly to describe his background in toxicology and his area of expertise in the area of drug testing and providing information to various defense attorneys before the judge called for the day’s adjournment. Testimony will resume at 9 a.m. PT on Wednesday.
Murray, who was being paid $150,000 a month to care for Jackson, had pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and is now facing four years in prison. But new sentencing laws in California aimed at mandatorily reducing state prison overcrowding mean that, as a nonviolent offender with no prior record, he could be sentenced to county jail instead. If that is the case, his sentence could be reduced to two years and, because of overcrowding in the Los Angeles County jail, he may be allowed to serve the majority of his time under supervised house arrest.