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Murray's case has a twist

Published:Saturday | October 29, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Dr Paul White, anaesthesiologist and propofol expert, gives testimony during Dr Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial in Los Angeles on Thursday.- AP

Michael Jackson was "probably" addicted to Demerol supplied to him by his dermatologist, a defence witness claimed Thursday in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr Conrad Murray.

Dr Robert Waldman - a specialist in addiction medicine - claimed medical records kept by Beverly Hills skin expert Arnold Klein reveal he injected the singer with doses of the painkiller during visits made by Jackson to his offices for Botox treatment.

Testifying as an expert for Murray's defence team, Waldman said: "I believe there's evidence he was dependent on Demerol."

When a defence lawyer enquired: "What about addicted?"

Waldman replied: "Possibly ... on what's known about his public behaviour, he was probably addicted to opioids."

Klein's medical records reveal Jackson had on occasion received as much as 375 milligrams of Demerol over the course of 90 minutes, but according to Waldman, a typical dose should be 50 milligrams, and the higher measurement would have left the Billie Jean singer "sleepy, lethargic, possibly difficult to arouse, possibly unresponsive".

hooked on Demerol

Waldman also claimed the treatments - Botox and wrinkle filler Restylane - Klein was providing the music legend would not need a painkiller the strength of Demerol, although he admitted he was not an expert in the field of dermatology.

Murray's defence team is presenting a case that Jackson became hooked on Demerol a few months before his death on June 29, 2009, and suffered from chronic insomnia as a result of drug withdrawal.

It was his insomnia the defence claim that led Jackson to inject himself with a fatal dose of the surgical anaesthetic propofol to get to sleep on the night of his passing.

During the prosecution's cross-examination of Waldman, it was claimed the expert's conclusions were irrelevant to the involuntary manslaughter case being presented.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said: "You understand there is no Demerol in the toxicology findings (from Jackson's autopsy)."

To which Waldman replied: "Correct."

The defence team had wanted to call Klein - a long-time friend and physician to Jackson - to the witness stand but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor barred them from questioning the dermatologist on objection from the prosecution.

Judge Pastor would only allow 36 pages of his medical records to be presented to the jury.

The prosecution's case is that Murray - who was being paid $150,000 a month to treat Jackson as he rehearsed for 'This Is It' London concert residency - administered a high dose of Propofol to Jackson and then left him alone.

Murray - who denies involuntary manslaughter - faces up to four years in prison if he is found guilty.

In another twist, the battle of scientific experts in the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor took a new turn late Thursday as defence lawyers made an 11th-hour disclosure that their scientific expert has devised a new computer simulation shedding light on what killed the pop superstar.

Prosecutors told the judge they were surprised by the new development and needed time to study the software programme used by Dr Paul White, a top expert on the anaesthetic propofol. The judge agreed.

He said White could conclude his defence testimony Friday but he would give the prosecution the weekend to analyse the computer data before the star witness of Dr Conrad Murray's defence is cross-examined.