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Conrad Murray trial: Defense begins its case

October 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
After 16 days and 33 witnesses, the prosecution rested its case on Monday in the Conrad Murray manslaughter trial. The defense was expected to take much less time, maybe just a few days.

Surveillance video from Michael Jackson's home showed what turned out to be the singer's last trip through the gate alive. Jackson fans in the courtroom wept as the video was played for the courtroom.

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

Attorneys for the defendant sought to discredit the prosecution's version of events, and time frame is one element.

The first defense witness was a Beverly Hills Police Department records keeper. She testified that the first 911 call came in at 12:18 p.m. from Jackson staffer Alberto Alvarez.

This record appears to conflict with Alvarez's earlier testimony. He said Murray tried to revive Jackson while giving instructions to stuff medical devices into bags before paramedics arrived. Yet the phone log suggests that Alvarez called 911 immediately as Murray requested.

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

And it was Alvarez who first described a bottle of milky fluid in an IV bag.

Yet under questioning by defense attorney Nareg Gourjian, LAPD Det. Dan Myers testified that Alvarez didn't mention the items until two months later when suspicions were mounting against Murray.

"Just to be clear, these drawings were made by Mr. Alvarez on Aug. 31 of 2009, correct? ... And that was about two months after the death of Mr. Jackson, correct?" Goujian asked Myers.

"Approximately, yes," Myers responded.

"And that would have also been four days after the coroner's office issued their press release regarding the cause of death in this case, correct?" Gourjian asked.

"I believe so, yes," Myers testified.

The defense took most of the morning trying to chip away at the prosecution's propofol expert, Dr. Steven Shafer. But that also gave prosecutors a chance to introduce a new point: Shafer said last week that Murray had to jerry-rig an IV to deliver a flow of propofol.

But since that testimony, Shafer re-examined the IV set and testified that the set found in Jackson's bedroom was perfectly suited for propofol infusions, and that Murray had ordered many of them.

Shafer pointed out that there were more vented lines than he previously understood.

The defense comeback was that Shafer's theory should not be taken as fact. Lead defense attorney challenged Shafer and got testy at times, with comments like, "That's true. You weren't there."

Shafer condemned Murray's treatment of Michael Jackson and presented what he said was the likely cause of the singer's death. Shafer said Murray likely rigged up a dangerous and unregulated IV line that delivered large quantities of the anesthetic propofol into Jackson.

Under cross examination, Chernoff questioned the validity of Shafer's theory and timeline. Shafer admitted that Jackson's case was unlike any he's ever seen.

"The pharmacological state of Michael Jackson is so unclear to me because of the long history of drugs that he's received, getting propofol every night," Shafer testified.

Later in the day, the defense called on Dr. Allan Metzger, a Los Angeles-based physician who had treated Jackson for more than 15 years. He testified that Jackson had long depended on his personal physicians to help him cope with his insomnia and other medical issues.

But under cross examination from the prosecution, Metzger explained that he warned Jackson against the dangers of taking intravenous medications as a sleep aid.

The defense plans to call 15 witnesses, including their own expert on propofol who has written a report that Jackson likely self administered the fatal dose of propofol. It is not yet known whether Murray will be called to the stand.

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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