Jacksons v AEG Timeline Legal

Jackson was probably dependent on Demerol: Murray trial update

By | Published on Friday 28 October 2011

Michael Jackson

So, as the Conrad Murray trial gets close to completion, the defence yesterday returned to Michael Jackson’s alleged use of the painkiller Demerol.

This line of defence has already been raised in court, both in the defence team’s opening remarks and on a couple of occasions during the testimonies of prosecution witnesses. Murray’s lawyers argue that Jackson had become dependent on and possibly addicted to the painkiller Demerol, a drug which, unbeknownst to Murray, he was getting from another doctor, dermatologist Dr Arnold Klein. A prosecution witness previously confirmed that Demerol can cause anxiety, and may well have contributed to the acute insomnia Murray was trying to cure, with fatal consequences.

The defence team’s expert was Dr Robert Waldman, an addiction specialist. He also confirmed that Demerol can cause anxiety and insomnia, and added that medical records suggested Jackson may have become dependent on the painkiller in the months before his death, though under cross-examination he conceded that he couldn’t say for certain it went as far as addiction.

Waldman noted that, on three occasions in May 2009, Klein gave Jackson the painkiller at the same time as Botox and Restylane, treatments to deal with wrinkles and excessive perspiration. Although the painkiller may well have actually been used to relieve pain during the skin treatments, Waldman said Jackson had been given “stiff doses” of the painkiller, much more than would be necessary for the administration of Botox and Restylane. That, he reckoned, could imply a dependency on the pain relief drug – a dependency that, the defence will argue, contributed to the unusual circumstances in which Murray was operating when he chose to give his patient a surgical anaesthetic in a domestic setting.

The defence had wanted to call Klein himself to testify, but Judge Michael Pastor refused permission, seemingly seeing the Demerol line of the defence’s case as something of a distraction from the core question as to what happened in the hours before Jackson’s death, and whether the doctor was sufficiently negligent to be liable for the singer’s demise.

The case continues.