Jacksons v AEG Timeline Legal

The defence fight back: Murray trial update

By | Published on Monday 24 October 2011

Conrad Murray

It was still the final chapter of the prosecution’s arguments, but the defence started fighting back more fiercely than in previous cross examinations on Friday.

As the prosecution got close to winding up its case, Conrad Murray’s defence team took task with the testimony of leading anaesthesiology expert Dr Steven Shafer, who, more resolutely than any previous prosecution witness, poured scorn on the defence’s argument that Michael Jackson self-administered the shot of the drug propofol that killed him.

Murray, of course, is accused of causing Jackson’s death through the negligent administration of the surgical anaesthetic as a treatment for insomnia. Murray claims he was trying to wean Jackson off the dangerous prescription medication, and that he only administered a tiny amount of it on the day the singer died. In a desperate bid to induce sleep Jackson must have self-administered another shot of the drug after Murray left the room, the defence argue.

Various experts presented by the prosecution have thrown doubt on this theory, but Shafer went as far as to say it was impossible. Aside from it being unlikely that Jackson, coming out of a general anaesthetic, would be capable of immediately injecting himself, the amount of propofol in the late pop star’s body – Shafer argued – was simply too high to have come from one shot injected by the singer himself. More likely, he theorised, Murray left Jackson receiving more of the drug – possibly up to forty times more than Murray has admitted administering – through an IV system.

Responding on Friday, the defence argued that – while an IV set up was in Jackson’s bedroom – the exact kit required to do what Shafer had claimed Murray might have done was not present. Shafer was forced to concede this was so, but added that all that was missing was a vented IV tube which could easily have been balled up and taken out of the bedroom as Murray and his patient left for the hospital shortly after the singer’s death. Other prosecution witnesses have recalled the defendant seemingly trying to hide drugs and bits of kit as paramedics arrived.

Even if that was so, the defence continued, is it not possible that any IV set up was switched off, but that Jackson switched it on himself? It was an interesting comeback, because that scenario actually seems more feasible than Jackson injecting himself, or the IV system, with the extra drugs, as has previously been suggested (and remember the theory the singer may have swallowed the extra propofol has been discarded). As with previous expert witnesses, Shafer conceded that was possible, but added it was no defence, because to leave a patient alone with such a system set up, in such a way that said patient could turn it on, was, in itself, gross negligence.

All in all it was a heated exchange, so heated, in fact, that at one point the judge, Michael Pastor, had to call the lawyers to the side to tell them to calm it down a little. The defence should finally get round to beginning their arguments today. It’s thought this should only take a week, so much so that Janet Jackson this weekend announced she was postponing some Australian tour dates because she wanted to be with her family as the final stages of the Murray trial begin.

The case continues.