Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Planet Pop


An attorney for Michael Jackson’s doctor on Friday hinted that the pop star may have killed himself with the drug propofol, even as prosecutors tried to bolster their claim the singer’s physician committed manslaughter.

On the fourth day of a hearing to decide if Conrad Murray will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s sudden death, prosecutors called a woman with whom Murray had an affair to testify about receiving packages from a pharmacy that court records show supplied him with propofol.

Coroner’s investigator Elissa Fleak also testified to finding at Jackson’s home 12 bottles of the powerful anesthetic — typically used in hospitals but which Jackson used as a sleep aid — including several in a bag marked “baby essentials.”

Fleak said she found most it four days after Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of a drug overdose, and that near his bed were an open box of hypodermic needles and one empty bottle of propofol.

Propofol is an anesthetic often used in hospitals for surgery, but Murray gave it to Jackson at home to help him sleep. Murray, who had offices in Houston and Las Vegas, had been hired to care for Jackson ahead of a series of concerts.

Murray has admitted giving Jackson propofol, which coroners determined was the principal cause of his death, but Murray has pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.

At the time he died, Jackson also had several other drugs in his system including the sedative lorazepam.

Prosecutors are seeking to establish that Murray was negligent in his care of the singer and, knowing that, tried to cover up his mistakes on the day Jackson died.

The preliminary hearing is expected to end toward the latter part of this week. If a judge decides that enough evidence exists, Murray will be ordered to stand trial.

Murray isn’t the only celebrity physician facing investigation.

Anna Nicole Smith’s primary doctor, who was acquitted in the late model’s high-profile drug prescription case, has been subpoenaed in a separate investigation, his attorney said Friday.

Ellyn Garafalo, who represents Sandeep Kapoor, said Kapoor was standing outside the courtroom where a judge dismissed most charges against Kapoor’s co-defendants on Thursday when he was handed a subpoena by a process server representing the California Medical Board.

Kapoor was tried with Howard K. Stern and psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich on charges of excessively prescribing opiates and sedatives for the former Playboy model. A jury acquitted him of all charges.

After a long and costly trial prosecution, Superior Court Judge Robert Perry threw out conspiracy convictions against Stern and Eroshevich, allowing one charge against her to remain but reducing it to a misdemeanor.

Garafalo said the board is probing cases unrelated to the Smith case.

“It’s outrageous,” she said. “This shows that this is a vendetta.” She said Kapoor has treated many severely ill patients and has written numerous prescriptions for them.

Garafalo said she has learned that official costs of the prosecution are close to US$4 million, that the defendants each spent up to US$1 million on their defenses and that their reputations were severely damaged. Proceedings before the medical board could increase legal costs.

In other courtroom drama, the Italian murder trial of American college student Amanda Knox has been recreated in a television movie that had the actors debating her innocence or guilt.

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