Testimony from the final defense witness resumed Monday (October 31) in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s former doctor, Conrad Murray. Once again, jurors heard from Dr. Paul White , an expert on the surgical anesthetic propofol, who tried to convince the court last week that Jackson had injected himself with a fatal dose of the drug while Murray was absent. As he did Friday, White also offered that Murray’s conduct was unusual and broke protocol but didn’t rise to the level of involuntary manslaughter.
» Dr. Paul White, propofol expert
» It was the prosecution’s turn to question White on Monday, and the anesthesiologist somewhat reiterated the claims he made to defense attorneys last week, that Murray’s method of administering propofol to Jackson in the singer’s bedroom was unorthodox at best.
» “Without careful bedside monitoring, it could be dangerous,” White said of the treatment Murray gave Jackson in the two months before the pop icon’s June 2009 death, according to the Los Angeles Times. Asked if that care could result in death, White said if the propofol IV “came opened up widely … certainly you could achieve a significant effect that could result in cardiopulmonary arrest.” The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office determined that Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication, which resulted in cardiac arrest.
» White also conceded to prosecutors that he’s never administered propofol in someone’s home and had never heard of such a thing being done. When asked if, like Murray, he would have waited 20 minutes to call 911, White said no, but added that many physicians are nervous and anxious in such situations. Prosecutor David Walgren scoffed at that explanation, noting that by his own admission Murray had a cell phone in his hand during the final critical moments of Jackson’s life.
» Judge Michael Pastor sent the jury out of the room at one point after becoming exasperated with White’s references to details he learned from two “extensive conversations” he had with Murray that are not considered admissible in court. According to HLN, after a second occurrence, Pastor announced in court that White violated his order and threatened a $1,000 sanction if the expert is found in contempt of court. Pastor scheduled a contempt hearing for November.
» Afternoon testimony continued with a few more heated exchanges between Walgren and White over the detailed explanations, graphs and analysis of the amounts of propofol found in Jackson’s bloodstream and urine. White stated that he doesn’t believe that Murray’s dose of propofol caused Jackson’s death: “I think that it was extremely unlikely, and I don’t believe it was a contributing factor.”
» Murray is not expected to take the stand in his defense.
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.
The case is expected to go to the jury later this week.