Defense drops claim Jackson swallowed propofol himself

LOS ANGELES Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:27pm EDT

1 of 8. Dr. Christopher Rogers, deputy medical examiner at the Los Angeles Coroner's Office, is shown an empty prescription bottle of Lorazepam by Deputy District Attorney David Walgren during Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles October 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Robyn Beck/Pool

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A cardiologist testified on Wednesday that Michael Jackson's physician made major mistakes in giving the singer the anesthetic propofol to help him sleep and the doctor's lawyers made an adjustment in their strategy.

Attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray told the judge in his manslaughter trial that they were dropping their claim that Jackson swallowed propofol when Murray was out of the room. The defense still is arguing that the singer could have injected himself with an extra, fatal dose on June 25, 2009.

"We are not going to assert at any point in time in this trial that Michael Jackson orally ingested propofol," Murray's attorney J. Michael Flanagan told the judge.

Murray has admitted giving the 50-year-old Jackson 25 milligrams of propofol.

With the jury out of the courtroom on Wednesday, Murray's attorneys and prosecutors presented medical studies to the judge that have shown propofol has no major effects on a person when swallowed.

Dr. Alon Steinberg, a cardiologist who reviewed Murray's treatment of Jackson for the California medical board, said even if the singer administered propofol to himself, the physician still would be responsible for his death.

"It's like leaving a baby that's sleeping on your kitchen countertop," Steinberg said. "You look at it and it's probably going to be OK and you're just going to go grab some diapers or go to the bathroom but you would never do it."

Steinberg said Murray displayed six "extreme deviations" from the generally accepted standard of care.

Those were: Administering propofol for sleep when it is meant for anesthesia; giving it at a home instead of a medical facility; not being prepared for an emergency with enough staff and equipment on hand; not taking the proper measures to revive Jackson when the singer stopped breathing; not immediately calling for an ambulance; and not keeping proper records.

"If these deviations hadn't happened, Mr. Jackson would have been alive," Steinberg said.

Steinberg and Murray are both cardiologists. Steinberg's findings were relied upon by the California medical board earlier this year when it suspended Murray's doctor's license.

"I've never heard of anyone using propofol for sleep except Dr. Murray," Steinberg said.

Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bill Trott)

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