Coroner Investigator Defends Her Work Collecting Evidence
Defense attorneys put a coroner's investigator in the hot seat Thursday, questioning her methods of documenting and collecting evidence from Michael Jackson's rented mansion after the pop star died, saying she made "substantial mistakes."
Elissa Fleak acknowledged during cross-examination that she moved a medicine vial before photographing it, leaving behind a partial finger print.
"Would you agree you made a substantial number of mistakes in your investigation?" defense attorney Edward Chernoff asked.
"No," Fleak responded.
However, Fleak said under testimony that she picked up a bottle of the medication Flumazenil from the floor of Jackson's bedroom and moved it to the bedside table before photographs were taken. While she doesn't consider this a mistake, she said she should have photographed the bottle before moving it.
During cross-examination, she also acknowledged that she did not document an intra-veneous fluids bag, 100-milliliter propofol bottle, syringes and tubing in her initial report of the scene. This propofol bottle with Murray's fingerprint is what prosecutors contend led to Jackson's death, according to fingerprint analysis accepted by both sides of the trial.
The prosecution alleges Murray used it as a makeshift IV drip to administer the surgical anesthetic to Jackson. On the other hand, the defense argues Murray only gave Jackson 25 mililiters of propofol and used a syringe to push it in.
Fleak also testified that she did not collect a Nacked juice bottle sitting on a table near the bed and didn't take pictures of the propofol bottle found inside the IV bag before the vial was taken out.
Chernoff also questioned Fleak about why she destroyed all of her notes from her first visit to Jackson's Holmby Hills rented home. She responded by saying she intentionally destroys all notes from all scenes once she has written the official report.
"Are there things you would have done differently?" Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked in the re-direct questioning.
"Yes," she responded, adding she did the best she could to accurately describe what happened.
At the start of day eight of testimony, the trial was delayed because the judge was concerned about the privacy of Jackson's children since information about them was displayed in court Wednesday when prosecution displayed their father's medical records.
County Coroner's toxicologist Dan Anderson, who studied the drugs in Jackson's body, began testimony Thursday morning. He introduced scientific evidence that furthered the prosecution's case in an effort to prove Murray was responsible for Jackson's death.