Entries in Witness (2)


Star Witness for Michael Jackson's Doctor Fined for Contempt of Court

Paul Buck-Pool/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The key defense witness in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor was held in contempt of court Monday during a tense cross-examination.

Propofol expert and anesthesiologist Dr. Paul White was fined $1,000 for violating the judge's order that he respond directly to questions during the prosecution's cross-examination.

White was fined for referring to information he learned from Dr. Conrad Murray outside of the evidence presented in court. This is not allowed because it is seen as providing Murray a way to testify without being cross-examined.

In a combative exchange, the defense's star witness evaded questions, but was continually pressed by prosecutor David Walgren.

White, who is being paid by Murray's defense team, was forced to admit that Murray should have called 911 sooner, should never have left Jackson alone while treating him with the powerful drug, and that he would never give a patient an inappropriate drug no matter how much he or she wanted it.

White had previously testified that he believes Jackson gave himself a fatal injection of the drug while Murray was out of the room.

The questioning began with a tense back-and-forth during which White admitted it was not normal practice to administer propofol to a patient in a bedroom, like Murray was doing for Jackson to allegedly help him with his insomnia.

When Murray discovered something was wrong with Jackson on June 25, 2009, the day of his death, he made two calls to cellphones before calling 911. When asked if he could justify Murray's "inability to call 911," White said he could not.

"I think he should have called 911 earlier, but I do not think that would have made any difference in the outcome of this case," White said.

White conceded to Walgren, "I would have done things differently. I would have called for help, initiated cardio-pulmonary resuscitation immediately."

When confronted with questions about why Murray did not immediately tell EMS responders that Jackson had been given propofol, White said that in a moment of stress, Murray may have forgotten.

Walgren pointed out that even if Murray had initially forgotten, he had an ambulance ride to the hospital to "ponder" what was happening. At the hospital, however, Murray did not tell emergency room doctors that Jackson had been given propofol.

Walgren said that while it is a possibility that Murray "overlooked" the fact, he asked White if it could also be a possiblity that he lied.

"It's an option, yes," White conceded.

White said that he has so far received a check for $11,000 for his time in court. He said that his usual rate for every day spent in court is about $3,500. He has been in court around 12 days, as both a spectator and as a witness, but said he would not be charging the defense this amount for the days he has been in court.

White is the last witness for Murray, who the prosecution blames for Jackson's death by giving him too much propofol and not properly monitoring Jackson while administering propofol.

The defense team contends that Murray was trying to wean Jackson off of propofol. They allege Jackson wanted propofol because he was suffering from insomnia brought on by withdrawal from the painkiller Demerol.

At the time of his death, Jackson was preparing for his This is It world tour, and exhaustion from that preparation also allegedly contributed to his insomnia.

Though it was originally believed that the case would be handed over to the jury for deliberations this week, ABC News has learned from sources close to the case that the trial may not go to the jury until next week.

Following White's cross-examination, there will likely be two days of rebuttal witnesses and then the judge has agreed to send the jury home to let prosecutors and defense prepare for closing arguments, which could push closing arguments to Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michael Jackson Death Trial: Prosecutors Call Final Witness

Robyn Beck-Pool/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Prosecutors in the Conrad Murray trial called their final witness Thursday, an expert on anesthesiology who is expected to tell jurors that Michael Jackson's personal physician should have never given the singer propofol.

Jackson died at 50 from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol. Murray has admitted to giving the singer the anesthesia on June 25, 2009 and said that the singer begged for his "milk," the nickname he'd given for the creamy drug. The doctor could face four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

The trial recessed early Thursday and the testimony of anesthesiologist Dr. Steven Shafer will resume Monday.

Before court adjourned, Shafer described the importance of precisely administering propofol to a patient so they don't overdose and can wake up quickly after receiving the drug.

Several experts have testified that Murray was grossly negligent in his care of Jackson and that he did not have a precise way of measuring the propofol he gave the singer.

At the time of his death, Jackson was preparing for a grueling comeback tour and was receiving frequent IVs to rehydrate.

Murray's defense team claims that Jackson gave himself a lethal dose of propofol and the sedative lorazepam on the day he died. They previously claimed the singer swallowed propofol in the two minutes Murray claims he left the singer to use the bathroom. On Wednesday, they back pedaled from that argument, saying that Jackson injected the drug into himself.

Several expert witnesses have testified how difficult it would be for an already drugged Jackson to inject himself with the anesthetic in two minutes. Even if Jackson did self-administer the drug, experts testified that Murray is still responsible for the singer's death.

In a hospital setting, propofol would be locked away from a patient so they couldn't access it, something Murray didn't do.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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