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Michael Jackson trial: Drug addiction expert testifies

September 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A drug addiction expert testified Tuesday that Michael Jackson's use of drugs put him on a dangerous road that was likely to shorten his life.

Jackson's use of prescription drugs was secretive, according to testimony. Jurors have heard he used fake names. His use of propofol to sleep at a hotel and at his home was never recorded in medical records. Was Jackson addicted to propofol?

"I don't think there's sufficient evidence from the record reading to ascertain whether he was addicted to either propofol or benzodiazepine. There are suggestions in the record, but there's not sufficient information," Dr. Paul Earley, a defense expert on anesthesia, had said in a video deposition.

Testifying in person on Tuesday, Earley says propofol studies are scant. Documented cases of dependency are rare and that most addicts are healthcare professionals who obtain it through surgery centers. The anesthetic is not available in retail pharmacies. Earley testified that he has studied 26 propofol addicts in his 30 years of practice.

Attorneys for concert promoter AEG Live claim that Jackson's habit was so unusual, even those closest to the star were unaware that Dr. Conrad Murray was infusing Jackson with propofol as an insomnia treatment in the two months before Jackson died of an overdose.

Earley testified there was even more that put Jackson at risk of death. He said that Jackson was addicted to opioids and the mix is potentially lethal. Earley pointed to multiple incidents when Jackson stopped breathing while under sedation.

Katherine Jackson has not been in court for the last two weeks. Her attorneys claim that Michael Jackson's health declined as he prepared for his comeback tour and that AEG failed to supervise Murray, the doctor that AEG conditionally agreed to hire at Jackson's request.

Regarding Earley, the Jackson attorneys are raising questions about his credibility. Earley completed a propofol study with $53,000 provided by AEG.

Earley says he properly disclosed the funding source and that the report did not form the basis of his opinion on this case.

Meantime, an outlook for the length of the case: there's a week and a half more for the defense. The Jackson attorneys say they will then put on their rebuttal case calling as many as four more witnesses.


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