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Did painkiller withdrawal cause insomnia: Murray trial update

By | Published on Tuesday 11 October 2011

Conrad Murray

The ongoing Conrad Murray trial was in recess yesterday for the Columbus Day holiday, but when the proceedings resume later today more of the recording of the interview the doctor gave police two days after Michael Jackson’s death will be played to jurors. And, according to CNN, in the second helping of the recording Murray will make allegations about another doctor consulted by Jackson, allegations which some expect the defence to expand upon once they begin their arguments.

As previously reported, Murray is accused of causing the death of the late king of pop by negligently administering the drug propofol, the surgical anaesthetic the singer was using to help him sleep. The doctor is yet to testify in the trial, and insiders say neither the prosecution nor the defence actually plan to call the defendant to the witness stand.

But on Friday jurors and the watching media still got to hear from the man himself when tapes of his first police interview were played. In it Murray told police he only left Jackson for two minutes, to visit the bathroom, after administering the propofol, even though other evidence previously presented by the prosecution show the doc was actually distracted for a good 45 minutes checking emails and making phone calls.

More of those tapes will be played later today and, CNN says, jurors will hear Murray allege that Jackson was receiving medication from another doctor in the weeks before his death. These are allegations Murray’s lawyer, Ed Chernoff, has already made, back at the start of the trial. Murray and Chernoff will argue that, while under Murray’s care, Jackson was still visiting his dermatologist Dr Arnold Klein, a man who has popped up before in relation to the investigation into the singer’s death, and who, it was once claimed, was the biological father of the pop star’s two eldest children.

Having explained the various sedatives he had been administering to Jackson, Murray tells police on the tape: “I was not aware of any other medications that he was taking, but I heard that he was seeing a Dr Klein three times a week in Beverly Hills. And he never disclosed that to me”. Chernoff has alleged that Klein was giving Jackson Demerol, a narcotic pain reliever, to which the singer had become hooked. In the interview Murray adds: “[Michael’s] production team had said to me recently that his worst days in the set is when he had gone to Dr Klein’s office, which is about three times a week. And when he came back, he was basically wasted and required at least 24 hours for recovery”.

The implication is that the days when Jackson was incapable and incoherent during ‘This Is It’ rehearsals, witnessed in court by the slurry voicemail messages that have been played, that was the result not of the sedatives Murray was administering, but the Demerol the singer was getting from Klein. Of course toxicology results didn’t find any Demerol in Jackson’s system, just the propofol and other sedatives, but Chernoff and Murray are expected to argue that it was withdrawal symptoms from the painkiller that resulted in the chronic insomnia that necessitated the sedatives that subsequently killed Jackson.

Murray maintains that he was trying to wean Jackson off the propofol he had been taking to aid sleep, but adds on the tape that after two nights without using the drug a mixture of sedatives failed to induce sleep. Murray continues: “It wasn’t working. So, was he going through a withdrawal from that agent [the Dermerol]? Was it his mind that was forcing him to stay awake? He said to me ‘I’ve got to sleep, Dr Conrad. 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’. So I then decided to go ahead and give him some of the ‘milk’, so he could get a couple of hours sleep so that he could produce, because I cared about him”.

The case continues later today.