Jacksons v AEG Timeline Legal

No additional tests: Murray lawyers return to court

By | Published on Tuesday 22 November 2011

Conrad Murray

Judge Michael Pastor yesterday refused a request by the legal reps of Dr Conrad Murray for tests to be carried out on a key vial that was presented as evidence in the doctor’s manslaughter trail.

Murray, of course, was found guilty earlier this month of causing the death of Michael Jackson through criminal negligence. His was accused of negligently administering the surgical anaesthetic propofol as a cure for insomnia in a domestic environment. Although Murray admitted to giving Jackson a small shot of the prescription drug on the day the singer died, he insisted it wasn’t enough to cause his patient’s death, and that Jackson must have therefore self-administered an additional fatal shot.

But the prosecution’s star witness, propofol expert Dr Steven Shafer, told the court Murray’s version of events was unbelievable, and the most likely scenario was that the doctor left his patient with an IV drip pumping propofol into his body while he made phone calls in another room. Although the exact kit required for such an IV set up wasn’t found in Jackson’s bedroom, Shafer postulated that Murray had hidden the missing kit shortly after his patient’s death.

Murray strongly denied Shafer’s theory as to what had occurred. The witness was then recalled to the stand right at the end of the trial to respond to claims made by a rival propofol expert presented by the defence. And during that stint on the stand he said it was likely Murray mixed the propofol given to Jackson via IV with the painkiller lidocaine.

It was that final bit of postulation that motivated the Murray legal team to return to court yesterday, a week before their client is due to be sentenced for involuntary manslaughter. Murray lawyer Michael Flanagan said that there should be an independent lab test of the small amount of liquid left in a key propofol vial found at the death scene, because if Murray had mixed the propofol with lidocaine, as Shafer suggested, then an extract of the latter drug should have been in the vial.

If the lidocaine was there, he said, that would strengthen Shafer’s theory. Though, of course, what Flanagan was really implying was if it wasn’t there that blew a hole in the prosecution witness’s claims.

But Judge Pastor was having none of it. He said that if Team Murray wanted the fluid found in the vial tested, they should have requested this test before the their client’s trial, or at the very least have mentioned it before the jury began deliberating. Flanagan insisted that he only thought of the significance of the liquid after the trial ended because Shafer only mentioned the lidocaine right at the end of Murray’s court hearing. But Pastor still refused the request for new lab tests.

Speaking for the prosecution, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said that the vial and its contents were irrelevant to the conviction, there was no legal basis for post-trial tests on evidence, and that Murray had received a fair hearing. He added that Shafer had told the court he could only theorise as to what happened in the hours before Jackson’s death, but that he and a number of other medical experts had convinced the jury that Murray had behaved negligently in various ways while treating Jackson for insomnia.

Murray will be sentenced next Tuesday.