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Defense Expert: Jackson Self Administered Lethal Dose

Prosecutors in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician today will begin cross-examining a defense expert who testified that the singer gave himself a fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol after taking eight tablets of the sedative lorazepam in the hours leading up to his death.

On Friday, Dr. Paul White told the jury in Dr. Conrad Murray’s trial that he believed the evidence showed the entertainer had rapidly given himself 25 milligrams of propofol less than an hour after Murray slowly infused 25 milligrams of the anesthetic into his system on June 25, 2009.

“… You think it was a self-injection of propofol between 11:30 and 12?” defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan asked.

“In my opinion, yes,” White responded.

The defense expert disputed the findings of a key prosecution witness, Dr. Steven Shafer, who said he believed that Jackson died while being given a “drip” of propofol.

“Do you reject this as being a possibility of occurring on the night Michael Jackson died?” Flanagan asked the witness.

“Yes, I do,” the anesthesiologist responded.

He said he could not understand how it would be possible for Jackson to have received a three-hour infusion of propofol.

White told the seven-man, five-woman jury that Shafer’s scenario could not be reconciled with Murray’s statement to police about how much propofol he had given Jackson, the physical evidence found at the scene and the urine concentration of propofol found in Jackson’s body at the time of the autopsy. But his own scenario was consistent with those factors, he said.

The anesthesiology expert said the defense theory that Jackson had given himself eight 2-milligram tablets of lorazepam was “more rational” than Shafer’s conclusion that Jackson’s stomach contents disproved the theory that the singer had orally ingested tablets between 8 a.m. and noon.

White told the Los Angeles Superior Court panel that he believed his own simulation “makes more sense,” telling jurors there may have been a time lag between some of the pills being taken.

He said he would not expect to see any lorazepam in Jackson’s stomach contents if the drug was given intravenously, asserting that even a tiny amount “is consistent with the theory that he took lorazepam orally.”

During his testimony in the prosecution’s case, Shafer said it was “absolutely” his position that Murray was responsible for Jackson’s death even if the singer had self-administered the medication. He said the doctor was “responsible” for every drop of propofol and lorazepam in the singer’s bedroom and cited 17 “egregious” violations in Murray’s treatment of Jackson.

Murray, a 58-year-old cardiologist, faces up to four years in prison if convicted of the felony charge stemming from Jackson’s death from acute propofol intoxication.

Prosecutors allege Murray gave the singer a fatal intravenous dose of propofol, then spent about 45 minutes on the phone or sending emails instead of monitoring him. Jackson was in Los Angeles rehearsing for a series of 50 concerts in London dubbed “This Is It.”

In his opening statement, defense attorney Edward Chernoff countered that the evidence would show Jackson “self-administered a dose of propofol” after Murray left the room, which “created a perfect storm” and “killed him instantly.”

Murray told police he only left Jackson’s side for about two minutes to use the bathroom after giving the singer a small amount of propofol.

White, who did some of the original testing of propofol before it was approved for use, said he first speculated that oral ingestion of the drug may have been a factor in the entertainer’s death. Defense attorneys have since dropped the claim that Jackson drank a fatal dose.

Murray told police he had been giving Jackson propofol to treat his insomnia but was trying to wean him off of it.

Copyright © 2011 City News Service

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