Jacksons v AEG Timeline Legal

Star defence witness accused of contempt: Murray trial update

By | Published on Tuesday 1 November 2011

Conrad Murray

In the final stages of the Conrad Murray trial the prosecution went on one last offensive yesterday as they cross-examined the defence’s strongest witness to date, Dr Paul White, the propofol expert who insists the most likely explanation for Michael Jackson’s death is that the singer administered a second shot of the surgical anaesthetic himself.

Under aggressive questioning, White was forced to concede that he had never heard of propofol being administered in a domestic setting before, and that Murray deviated from commonly accepted medical practices, both on the day Jackson died and various previous occasions, by administering the anaesthetic outside a hospital environment as a cure for insomnia.

Asked if Murray had breached his doctor’s oath to “do no harm” to his patient by administering the propofol, White responded: “I think he was providing a service to Mr Jackson that he had requested and in fact insisted on”. But White conceded that in similar circumstances he would never have left his patient unattended, especially knowing – as Murray did – that Jackson knew how to administer the dangerous prescription drug himself.

Presumably in a bid to damage White’s credibility as a witness, the prosecution also asked the expert about his fee for work done for the defence team, which is over $11,000. This contrasts with the prosecution’s star witness, Dr Steven Shafer, who received no fee for testifying.

In heated exchanges White twice made references to revelations, mainly about Jackson, made to him by Murray which have not previously been presented in court. Judge Michael Pastor insisted White must not make statements which included allegations not previously presented by the defence to court, at one point ordering the jury out of the court room so he could admonish the witness. When White later complained he had information for the jury he wasn’t allowed to reveal, the judge said he believed the witness was in contempt of court, and ordered him to face a charge of contempt later in the month.

So, some high drama as this case reaches its conclusion. Final arguments are due shortly.