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Conrad Murray trial: Medical examiner says Michael Jackson was in good health

October 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Michael Jackson testified on Tuesday that the pop singer was in good health.

While Jackson may have bore scars from years of injections, nothing that would contribute to his death was visible, Dr. Christopher Rogers testified.

Get complete coverage of the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

"I believe that he was healthier than the average person of his age," Rogers said.

Rogers determined that the manner of death was homicide, and the cause of Jackson's death was a lethal mix of sedatives, the most significant being the milky white hospital anesthetic propofol.

Gasps were heard as an autopsy photo was shown in the courtroom, and some fans were in tears. Katherine and Rebbie Jackson had been warned, so the family left before it was shown.

Rogers' testimony contradicted the defense's theory that Jackson self-medicated with propofol while Murray wasn't looking.

Follow @abc7MurrayTrial on Twitter to get the latest updates on the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.

According to Rogers, Jackson could not have administered propofol to himself in the two minutes Murray said he stepped away from Jackson's bedside.

"The theory that seems less reasonable to me is that Mr. Jackson woke up, and although he was under the influence of sedative medications, managed to give himself another dose," Rogers said.

Rogers said it was more likely that Murray gave Jackson more propofol than he intended because he was ill-equipped.

"We did not find any kind of precision dosing device. I think it would be easy, under those circumstances, for the doctor to estimate wrong and give too much propofol," Rogers testified.

Further lapses include the absence of monitoring and resuscitation equipment and the decision to use propofol at all, Rogers said.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard the rest of Murray's two-hour police interview and testimony from LAPD Det. Scott Smith, who conducted the interview along with another detective. Smith said the interview was to get more information from Murray about Jackson's death, and it was not an interrogation.

Smith said Murray never said anything about being on the phone at about the time Jackson stopped breathing, and during the interview, there were no questions asked about the phone calls to his girlfriends and his office in Houston because the LAPD had not obtained phone records at that point.

Under cross examination, Smith confirmed that Murray's lawyers never tried to limit the questions that were asked to Murray.

The audio recording revealed how Jackson's family reacted to news of his death. Murray said the three children cried, and Paris Jackson said she didn't want to be an orphan.

Katherine Jackson was seen in court wiping tears away during the portion of the audio recording where Murray was talking about his conversation with Paris Jackson.

"She asked me, 'Dr. Murray, you said you save a lot of patients. You save people with heart attacks, and you couldn't save my dad.' I said, 'I tried my best,' and she said, 'I know that Dr. Murray, I know you tried your best,'" Murray told detectives.

Murray said the children wanted to see their father's body, but Jackson's mother Katherine Jackson did not want to see the body. Jackson's father Joe Jackson never showed up at the hospital, Murray said.

Smith testified that during the interview, Murray appeared surprised when police told him they had not yet recovered his medical bag containing syringes and IVs.

"His eyes got bigger, wider, as if he were surprised, the look of surprise, just as Mr. Chernoff said, 'Oh really,'" Smith said.

Smith said Murray never mentioned propofol until that interview.

The defense suggested sloppy evidence gathering: No photos were available of the alleged instrument of death - a saline bag containing a 100 milliliter bottle of propofol - and the possibility the crime scene was disturbed before investigators suspected any crime.

"I asked upon leaving if it was going to be sealed, and I was told no," Smith said, who added that given the circumstances, he was not surprised.

The prosecution only plans to call three more witnesses, which means the prosecution could rest as early as Wednesday.

Murray is on trial for involuntary manslaughter for Jackson's sudden death on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50. Prosecutors allege Murray tried to hide the fact that he had been giving propofol to Jackson.

Murray, 58, has pleaded not guilty and has denied any wrongdoing. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison and lose his medical license.

The trial is expected to last five weeks, with Oct. 28 being the estimated last day.

View photos from the involuntary manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray.


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