Conrad Murray trial: Expert examines Michael Jackson death scenarios


The prosecution dangled an imaginary scenario for the jury: Was it possible for sleep-starved Jackson to administer the sedative propofol to himself intravenously. The prosecution's expert witness, Dr. Steven Shafer, pulled no punches with his response.

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"This is a notion of somebody who's putting themselves unconscious, a general anesthetic dose, then waking up and drawing up drug, which takes times and re-injecting it. People just don't walk up from anesthesia like that," Shafer said.

Shafer, an international authority on propofol, led the jury through a series of hypothetical situations.

Murray stated that he gave the singer a single dose of 25 milligrams of propofol, but through mathematical models, Shafer testified that would not explain the 2.6 percent of propofol found in Jackson's blood at autopsy.

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Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked, what if Jackson self administered 50 milligrams or 100 milligrams? Shafer testified that those amounts would rapidly be metabolized, and Jackson would have to wake up and give himself more.

What if Jackson gave himself a level of infusion that is used for surgery and repeated it six times over three hours?

"Even after six doses, the level that would be seen on autopsy is a small fraction of what was actually observed in the femoral vein," Shafer said.

The scenario that Shafer says could support the coroner's findings of propofol intoxication is that Jackson received a continual infusion from Murray, and Jackson stopped breathing, but the infusion kept running.

"And that's completely consistent with Michael Jackson dying on an infusion, a drip," Shafer told jurors.

Shafer testified that Murray might have noticed a change in Jackson's breathing pattern, but he lacked the proper monitoring equipment, and by Murray's own admission, he left Jackson's bedside.

"He could easily have just turned off the propofol infusion, done some chin lifts, and there would have been no injury to Michael Jackson," Shafer said.

During a demonstration, Walgren unfastened a hook on a propofol bottle, but the defense was upset because one of the major points they will make is that the hook was not unfastened, which means it cold not have been hung on an IV stand.

For the first time in the trial, Murray explicitly expressed his feelings, standing up and appearing very agitated. Walgren agreed to stipulate on the record that he had "tampered" with the evidence.

Prosecutors allege Murray placed the bottle inside a bag, delivering the propofol at too high a level.

Shafer ended his testimony for the day saying Murray caused Jackson's death.

"He is a physician who has brought propofol into the room, started an intravenous and provided access to propofol to a patient who may in fact be developing a dependency on sedatives," Shafer said. "He has been entrusted by Michael Jackson to look after his safety every night, and he has failed that responsibility while enabling the administration of intravenous propofol."

The defense will take over when Shafer returns to the stand on Friday at 12:45 p.m. PT.

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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