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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Southern California

Murray Defense Team Drops Claim That Jackson Drank Propofol

A report commissioned by the defense revealed that drinking propofol would not be fatal.

An attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray announced Wednesday that the defense team was dropping its claim that Michael Jackson drank a self-administered, fatal dose of propofol prior to his death.

A sign on display outside the courtroom where Murray's trial is being held Wednesday. (ATVN)
A sign on display outside the courtroom where Murray's trial is being held Wednesday. (ATVN)

In the surprise move, defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor that the defense commissioned a study which revealed that swallowing the anesthetic propofol would not be fatal.

During opening statements, the defense told the jury that Jackson "self-administered" the fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic after Murray left the singer's bedroom.

"We are no longer contending that," Flanagan said. Today's announcement was made outside of the jury's presence.

An expert witness for the prosecution also testified today that Murray violated multiple standards of patient care the day of Jackson's death.

Cardiologist Alon Steinberg said he believes Murray committed six violations, including using propofol without any medical need, administering the drug in an unmonitored and unprofessional setting, failing to adequately prepare for an emergency, failing to follow emergency procedues, failing to summon help immediately and failing to maintain proper medical records.

Steinberg said it was particularly flagrant for Murray to have left Jackson's side after administering propofol to the singer.

"When you monitor a patient, you never leave their side," Steinberg told the jury. "It's like leaving a baby that's sleeping on your kitchen countertop."

Steinberg said his claims are based on comments made by the doctor during an interview with Los Angeles police detectives on June 27, 2009, two days after Jackson's death.

Prosecutors argue that Murray gave Jackson a large dose of propofol, then left the room to make phone calls and send e-mails. Witnesses have testified about speaking with Murray over the phone and about e-mails sent from Murray's phone on the morning of Jackson's death.

Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter for Jackson's death on June 25, 2009. If found guilty, Murray could face up to four years in prison.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County deputy medical examiner Dr. Christopher Rogers testified that he did not believe the singer self-administered the fatal dose of propofol.

Rogers, who performed the autopsy on Jackson, told the jury he ruled the singer's death as a homicide because "the circumstances from my point of view do not support self-administration of propofol."

Rogers also noted that Murray told police he had given Jackson a 25-milligram dose of propofol. Rogers said "there was not an appropriate medical indication" for the doctor to give Jackson propofol as a means of treating insomnia.

The deputy medical examiner also said there was not an EKG monitor or a precision dosing device on site.

"Essentially, the doctor would be estimating how much he was giving," Rogers testified. He continued by saying that it would be easy "for the doctor to estimate wrong and give too much propofol."

Rogers further explained the autopsy, saying that Jackson died from acute propofol intoxication, with a contributing "benzodiazepene effect." He said that the sedatives midazolam and lorazepam were also found in Jackson's system.

He noted that the coroner's office consulted an anesthesiologist who confirmed that the level of propofol found in the singer's system at the time of death was similar to levels used in general anesthesia for major surgery.

 

RELATED:

Jackson's Final Days Revealed

Prosecution: Murray Ordered 255 Vials of Propofol [Updated]

Conrad Murray Trial Enters Second Week

Bodyguard: Instructed by Murray to Hide Meds In Bags [Updated]

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[...] Murray Defense Team Drops Claim That Jackson Drank Propofol [...]

[...] Murray Defense Team Drops Claim That Jackson Drank Propofol [...]

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