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Conrad Murray trial: Prosecution rests, defense calling witnesses

10/24/2011 by Corinne Heller

Defense lawyers have begun calling witnesses to testify in the trial of Conrad Murray, who is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson.

Two of them, other medical officials who treated the singer, testified on Monday that the King of Pop complained about having trouble sleeping. Murray, a cardiologist, has said he was hired to administer the anasthetic propofol and other sedatives to Jackson on a nightly basis to help him combat insomnia as the singer prepared for a comeback tour prior to the his death on June 25, 2009.

NOTE: You can watch the proceedings online: OnTheRedCarpet.com is hosting a LIVE STREAM of the Conrad Murray trial, which began on September 27.

Autopsy results have shown that Jackson died at age 50 from an overdose of propofol, which he called his "milk," and other sedatives. The singer had suffered a cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles home and was pronounced dead at a hospital. Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors have criticized Murray for giving Jackson propofol outside of a surgical setting. Murray faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted. His attorneys maintain Jackson consumed propofol and other sedatives while the doctor was away from his bedside and that the dose of propofol Murray gave him was too small to be fatal.

Steven Shafer, an expert on propofol, finished his testimony on Monday, October 24 - 16 days after the trial began officially. He had criticized Murray's treatment of Jackson and was the last witness to have been summoned by the prosecution.


Alan Metzger, a primary physician who treated Jackson since the 1990s, was one of the witnesses called to testify by Murray's lawyers on Monday. He said the singer has suffered from sleep issues for years and was interested in intravenous sleep medication but did not mention a specific drug. The doctor said he never administered such substances to Jackson.

Metzger said the singer had tried other drugs to help him sleep, such as Tylenol PM and Xanax, but that they were ineffective. Prosecutor David Walgren asked the doctor if there was "any amount of money that would have convinced you to give Michael Jackson propofol?" Metzger said: "Absolutely not."

Cherilyn Lee, a holistic practitioner, nutritionist and nurse who began treating Jackson and his three children in early 2009, months before his death, testified that the singer had complained to her about fatigue.

"He said, 'I'm having a hard time sleeping," Lee added. "I noticed when I was with him, he loved to drink Red Bull and I told him ... caffeine can cause him to feel fatigue. "He said occasionally he would just take Tylenol PM. He said he would take it sometime at night. He was very concerned about nutrition. He said he would sweat a lot during rehearsal ... he would lose five to seven pounds sometimes just from perspiration."

Lee said she ran blood tests on him and after reviewing his results, throughout the next few days, she gave him low doses of vitamins B-12, C, amino acid, magnesium and calcium through an IV also made him nutritional smoothies and teas aimed at boosting his energy and helping him with his fatigue and insomnia.

She said that one day, Jackson asked her to observe him trying to sleep, in a bid to show natural treatments were ineffective. Lee said she sat at the singer's bedside and observed him trying to doze off after he was given his vitamins and tea. Jackson slept for five hours, she said, adding: "He woke up around 3 a.m. and he said, 'I told you, I can't stay asleep."

In April 2009, two months before his death, was the first time Jackson mentioned medications to her, she said, adding that Jackson acknowledged that it was difficult to give him injections and told her: "Doctors have always told me that it is hard for them to get my veins. Because they are squiggly veins."

Murray had told police in an interview following Jackson's death that the singer had complained about insomnia and requested that he order propofol and give it to him on a nightly basis. Records presented to the jury in recent weeks show that the doctor ordered more than 4 gallons of it for him.

Murray had told police that Jackson "begged" for the drug on the day of his death to help him sleep, after being unable to do so for hours. He said that during the two months prior to Jackson's death, he gave the singer propofol "30 days a month, roughly every day" and that he "handled it fine," adding: "(Jackson) explained to me that he had taken it multiple times. He used it frequently on his tours. it was given to him by multiple other doctors."


Donna Norris from the Beverly Hills Police Department was the defense's first witness and testified for several minutes on Monday, describing the 46-second 911 call made by Jackson's bodyguard, at Murray's request, after the doctor discovered the singer in cardiac arrest. The call was made at 12:20 p.m.

Paramedics had testified last month that they arrested several minutes later and that the singer showed no signs of life. Jackson was pronounced dead at a Los Angeles hospital more than two hours later.

Others called to testify by Murray's lawyers on Monday included Alexander Supall, a surveillance specialist from the Los Angeles Police Department, and LAPD Detective Dan Myers, who testified that he had interviewed Alberto Alvarez, one of Jackson's bodyguards, in August 2009.

Myers said the man never mentioned to him an incident that he had described earlier in the trial, in which he described seeing Murray hide drug vials while paramedics were busy loading Jackson into an ambulance.

Among the witnesses who have testified by request of prosecutors include Jackson's security guards, private chef and "This Is It" tour co-director Kenny Ortega. Check out a summary of the Conrad Murray trial proceedings so far.

Several members of Jackson's family have attended court sessions since the trial began. His sister, fellow singer Janet Jackson, announced on Monday that she would postpone several concerts on her Australian tour taht were scheduled for this week and return to the United States to be with her family.

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