Prosecutors are set to cross-examine Dr. Conrad Murray's expert on propofol Monday, as the involuntary manslaughter trial for the death of pop star Michael Jackson nears the deliberation phase.
Proscutors Monday will get their chance to question Dr. Paul White. He told jurors last week that facts support his theory is that Jackson self- administered a fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol after swallowing eight tablets of the sedative lorazepam just before he died on June 25, 2009.
"This is exactly what the defense is arguing. Whether the jury excepts this or whether Dr. White survives cross examination come next week is an interesting question. But it's as much as the defense could have possibly hoped for," said Loyola Law Professor Stan Goldman.
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White's testimony is at odds with both the findings of a key prosecution witness, Dr. Steven Shafer, who has testified that Jackson died while being given an intravenous "drip'' of propofol by Murray at the singer's house just off Sunset Boulevard near Holmby Hills.
White told the seven-man, five-woman jury Friday that Shafer's scenario was at odds with Murray's statement to police about how much propofol he had given Jackson, the physical evidence found at the scene and the percentage of propofol found in the urine remaining in Jackson's body at the time of the autopsy.
Murray has not testified to the jury about what steps he took prior to Jackson's death. But a two-hour-20-minute audio recording of his questioning by Los Angeles police detectives was played to the jury two weeks ago.
And White said last week only his own scenario provided reconciliation with those factors.
The anesthesiology expert said his theory that Jackson had given himself eight 2-milligram tablets of lorazepam was "more rational'' than Shafer's conclusion that Jackson's stomach contents disproved the theory that the singer had swallowed tablets between 8 a.m. and noon.
White told the Los Angeles Superior Court panel that he believed his own simulation "makes more sense,'' telling jurors that there may have been a time lag between some of the pills being taken.
He said he would not expect to see any lorazepam in Jackson's stomach contents if the drug was given intravenously, saying that even a tiny amount "is consistent with the theory that he took lorazepam orally.''
White also questioned the account of Alberto Alvarez, Jackson's director of logistics, who testified that he saw a bottle inside an IV bag. He said it appeared to be a bottle of propofol that was later collected by police.
"I have never envisioned such a thing,'' White said, adding that he had never seen a propofol bottle being hung that way.
During his testimony in the prosecution's case, Shafer said it was "absolutely'' his position that Murray was responsible for Jackson's death even if the singer had taken the powerful medicine himself. He said the doctor was "responsible'' for every drop of propofol and lorazepam in the singer's bedroom and cited 17 "egregious'' violations in Murray's treatment of Jackson at the pop star's rented Holmby Hills estate.
Court proceedings were halted early on Friday to allow prosecutors some time to review the computer software program upon which the defense team's drug simulations were based. The program was turned over the prosecutors Thursday.
Murray, a 58-year-old cardiologist, faces up to four years in prison if convicted of the felony charge stemming from Jackson's death from acute propofol intoxication.