Tue | Mar 2, 2021

Defence: Michael Jackson killed himself

Published:Sunday | October 30, 2011 | 12:00 AM

LOS ANGELES (AP):Attorneys for Michael Jackson's doctor dropped the bombshell Friday they've been hinting at for months - an expert opinion accusing the legendary singer of causing his own death.

Dr Paul White, the defence team's star scientific witness, said Jackson injected himself with a dose of propofol after an initial dose by Dr Conrad Murray wore off. He also calculated that Jackson gave himself another sedative, lorazepam, by taking pills after an infusion of that drug and others by Murray failed to put him to sleep.

That combination of drugs could have had "lethal consequences," the researcher said.

White showed jurors a series of charts and simulations he created in the past two days to support the defence theory. He also did a courtroom demonstration of how the milky white anaesthetic propofol could have entered Jackson's veins in the small dose that Murray claimed he gave the insomniac star.

White said he accepted Murray's statement to police that he administered only 25 milligrams of propofol after a night-long struggle to get Jackson to sleep with infusions of other sedatives.

"How long would that (propofol) have had an effect on Mr Jackson?" asked defence attorney J. Michael Flanagan.

"If you're talking effect on the central nervous system, 10 to 15 minutes max," White said.

He then said Jackson could have injected himself with another 25 milligrams during the time Murray had said he left the singer's room.

"So you think it was self-injected propofol between 11:30 and 12?" asked Flanagan.

"In my opinion, yes," White said.

The witness, one of the early researchers of the anaesthetic, contradicted testimony by Dr Steven Shafer, his longtime colleague and collaborator. Shafer earlier testified Jackson would have been groggy from all the medications he was administered during the night and could not have given himself the drug in the two minutes Murray said he was gone.

"He can't give himself an injection if he's asleep," Shafer told jurors last week. He called the defence theory of self-administration "crazy."

White's testimony belied no animosity between the two experts, who have worked together for 30 years. Although White was called out by the judge one day for making derogatory comments to a TV reporter about the prosecution's case, White was respectful and soft spoken on the witness stand.

When Flanagan made a mistake and called him "Dr Shafer" a few times, White said, "I'm honoured."

The prosecution asked for more time to study the computer programme White used before cross-examining him. Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor granted the request, saying he too was baffled by the complicated simulations of Jackson's fatal dose. He recessed court early and gave prosecutors the weekend to catch up before questioning White tomorrow.

The surprise disclosure of White's new theory caused a disruption of the court schedule, and the judge had worried aloud that jurors, who expected the trial to be over this week, were being inconvenienced. But the seven men and five women appeared engaged in the testimony and offered no complaints when the judge apologised for the delay.

Prosecutors could call Shafer back during their rebuttal case to answer White's assertions.