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Conrad Murray trial: Experts say Murray was grossly negligent

October 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
During day 11 of the Conrad Murray trial, jurors heard explosive testimony from two medical experts who accused the doctor of being grossly negligent in his care of Michael Jackson.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren first called Dr. Alon Steinberg, a cardiology specialist who reviewed Murray's treatment of Jackson for the California Medical Board. He made his testimony based on Murray's two-hour interview with LAPD detectives and photos of the death scene.

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

Steinberg testified that Murray's negligence resulted in the singer's death.

"All those deviations, giving propofol, giving propofol in an unmonitored setting without personnel, without appropriate monitoring, without the appropriate equipment, not being prepared, not appropriately reacting to an arrest, not calling 911 in a timely fashion, all directly impacted his life because if these deviations would not have happened, Mr. Jackson would have been alive," Steinberg testified.

Steinberg said he has never heard of a doctor using propofol to treat insomnia, and also pointed out that Murray was not a board-certified cardiologist at the time of Jackson's death.

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Murray stated that he left Jackson's side for just two minutes, but Steinberg contended that even that was an example of negligence, saying, "When you monitor a patient, you never leave their side, especially after giving propofol."

"It's like leaving a baby that's sleeping on your kitchen countertop," he said.

Steinberg said Murray did not have the proper monitoring equipment, such as a pulse oximeter with an alarm, an EKG monitor to check Jackson's heart rate or an automated blood pressure cuff. Murray had only one device to monitor Jackson - a fingertip pulse oximeter with no alarm.

Murray said Jackson's body was still warm when he found the pop star not breathing at about noon, but by the time paramedics arrived, they said the body was cool, and Jackson was possibly dead. The elapsed time was 26 minutes - a period in which Jackson could have been saved, according to Steinberg.

In a police interview, Murray said he didn't call 911 immediately because he didn't know the address of Jackson's house and didn't want to leave the singer's side.

"It takes literally two seconds to dial and say, 'I'm a doctor. There's an arrest. Come to 100 Carolwood now,' put them on speaker, do your stuff," Steinberg said.

Murray maintains he gave Jackson no more than a small dose of propofol, but Steinberg testified that what was more likely was that Murray set up an IV drip as he had for nearly every night in the previous two months.

Under cross examination, Steinberg got into several heated exchanges with defense attorney Michael Flanagan.

"Dr. Steinberg was an effective witness," said George Bird, a certified criminal law specialist. "He talked to the jurors on a level that they could understand."

Also on Wednesday, the defense team dropped a key claim that Michael Jackson ingested propofol orally.

"We are no longer contending that propofol was ingested orally in this case, so we are not going to pursue it," Flanagan told Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor.

Lawyers had said in opening statements that the pop star gave himself the fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic, but after reviewing a study about the effects of propofol if swallowed, the defense decided to drop that claim. The defense still contends that Jackson somehow self administered the sedative propofol.

Dr. Nader Kamangar, a pulmonary and sleep medicine expert, will resume his testimony on Thursday.

In the morning when the Jackson family arrived to the courtroom, Katherine Jackson was asked what it's like for them to be in the courtroom. She responded simply with, "Difficult."

The judge announced at the end of the day that there will be no court on Friday because of scheduling conflicts with witnesses.

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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