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.
The movie focuses on the trial of Knox, who was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering her British roommate in the rented house they shared in the university town of Perugia, where both were studying.
Nicknamed “Foxy Knoxy” by her Italian prosecutor and the media,
Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, a verdict she is appealing. The co-defendant in the appeals trial is her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years. Both deny any wrongdoing.
“It’s one of those really riveting stories where you just don’t know,” Hayden Panettiere, who plays Knox, told television writers. “I can’t say I have an opinion. That’s why the story is so interesting. I don’t know that we’ll ever really know.” Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy airs Feb. 21 on Lifetime in the US.
“Our story tells factually what happened up to the point of her arrest,” executive producer Trevor Walton said. “We feel we’ve done this very responsibly and should have no effect on any ongoing trial.”
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