An addiction specialist faced aggressive questioning from prosecutors Thursday after testifying in the trial of Michael Jackson's personal physician that he believes the superstar developed an addiction to a powerful pain medication months before his death.
But Dr. Robert Waldman backed away from that assertion under cross-examination.
"Would you diagnose Michael Jackson as addicted to Demerol based strictly on these documents in my hand, yes or no?'' Deputy DA David Walgren asked, holding up a stack of medical records.
"Probably not,'' Waldman answered.
Waldman, one of the final defense witnesses expected to testify in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, said Jackson received "above average" doses of Demerol in the months before his death on June 25, 2009. Waldman said that a symptom of Demerol withdrawal is insomia.
Jackson was plagued by sleep problems as he prepared for a series of planned London concerts, according to previous witness testimony and LAPD detectives' interview with Dr. Conrad Murray.
"I believe there is evidence that he was dependent on Demerol, possibly,'' Waldman said under defense questioning.
Defense attorney Ed Chernoff claimed during his opening statement that Jackson was addicted to Demorol and Murray was not aware of the addiction.
The drug was not found in Jackson's system after his death. Jackson received the Demerol shots from his longtime dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein. Klein is not facing accusations in the case.
Defense attorneys are attempting to counter last week's detailed testimony from the prosecution's propofol expert, who sharply criticized Murray's treatment of Jackson and referred to the defense theory that the King of Pop self-administered the drug as "crazy."
The defense claims Jackson created a "perfect storm" of medications in his system and self-administered the fatal dose of propofol, usually reserved for surgical settings, when his doctor stepped out of the bedroom June 25, 2009 at a rented Holmby Hills mansion.
That propofol was being administered as a sleep aid at the mansion was just one of Dr. Murray's critical mistakes, according to Dr. Steven Shafer, the prosecution's expert on the drug testified. Shafer also said last week that Murray lacked the proper equipment to monitor his patient.
Shafer had words for Dr. Paul White, the defense's propofol expert who is expected to testify Thursday. Shafer said he was "disappointed" when asked for his opinion on White's suggestion that Jackson died by drinking propofol. It's a theory the defense proposed during opening statements, then abandoned later in the trial.
The jury might get the case next week.
Doctor Tears Up as Patients Testify
After weeks of hearing prosecution witnesses call Murray inept and motivated by interests other than the welfare of his superstar patient, a parade of character witnesses took the stand Wednesday to defend a man they characterized as caring.
Patient Ruby Mosley provided that day's most engaging testimony. Mosley was emphatic in her defense of her doctor, bristling at the suggestion he was motivated by money. Defense attorney Ed Chernoff asked Mosley, of Houston, whether she thought Murray was "greedy."
"Do I what?," Mosley asked as she leaned forward in her seat. "No."
She was one of five Murray patients to testify. One credited Murray with saving his life. Another called him loving and compassionate.
"They paraded them very quickly," said legal analyst Ed Navarro. "The second thing is, they're not attacking the breach of the standard of care, which the prosecution did such a good job at with their three final witnesses."
Prosecutors said the issue was not with Murray's care for the patients the defense presented, but with his care for one patient -- Michael Jackson.
Deputy DA David Walgren asked patient Andrew Guest, "I don't mean to be flip about this... but Dr. Murray never gave you propofol in your bedroom, did he?"
"No sir," Andrew Guest responded.
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