Jackson trial focuses on singer's Demerol use

LOS ANGELES Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:25pm EDT

1 of 10. Dr. Conrad Murray listens to testimony during his 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 sleep medicine expert testified on Thursday that Michael Jackson's reliance on the painkiller Demerol could have led to insomnia, but said the singer's doctor still erred by giving him propofol to sleep.

Dr Conrad Murray is on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the "Thriller" singer's 2009 death from an overdose of sedatives and the anesthetic propofol.

Prosecutors say Murray was negligent in his care, but defense attorneys hope to shift some blame onto another doctor who gave Jackson Demerol, which they say ultimately caused the insomnia Murray was treating.

Murray told police he gave Jackson propofol as a sleep aid on the day he died at the singer's Los Angeles mansion. His attorneys say Jackson gave himself an extra, fatal dose of the drug he called his "milk" due to insomnia.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan, sleep medicine expert Dr Nader Kamangar testified that his review of Jackson's records showed the singer received Demerol from Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr Arnold Klein.

"I usually avoid using Demerol" on patients, Kamangar said on the witness stand. "It can actually activate someone, make them more hyper or excited, create more stimulation."

Flanagan asked, "Can that cause insomnia?"

"It certainly can," Kamangar said.

In opening arguments three weeks ago, lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff told jurors that in the months before his death, Jackson visited Klein's office as much as two to three times a week.

"Dr Arnold Klein addicted Michael Jackson to Demerol," Chernoff said at the time.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor has denied a defense request to call Klein as a witness, ruling that his testimony would be insufficiently relevant.

Klein could not be reached for immediate comment on Thursday.

On the witness stand, Kamangar said he did not have enough information to determine if Jackson had a Demerol dependency.

Flanagan pressed Kamangar about a 2010 Chinese study of the use of propofol to induce sleep for patients with severe insomnia that showed the drug helped those people.

Kamangar said the study was extremely experimental and did not justify using propofol for sleep in a hospital setting, let alone a home.

"Even the authors in the end explain that this is just a very preliminary experiment and it needs way more studies to even imagine using this drug for (insomnia)," Kamangar said.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Xavier Briand)

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Comments (1)
A.Keame wrote:
How long America? How long will you allow yourselves to be led around by the nose by lawyers representing the sharks that either surrounded or came after Jackson, both when he was alive and now that he is dead?

Extorted, successfully, in 1993 by Evan Chandler, a man who would go on to abuse his own son Jordan less than 5 months after Jackson was himself exonerated 14 times in a protracted, heavily scrutinized trial. Even now the impunity against Jackson’s unjustly tarnished name continues.

The infamous case in 2005, a shocking aggregate of deceit, greed and fantasy, given credence by an industry that saw profit in the marketing of Jackson as a harmer of children.

Without attention to fact, a family of grifters were allowed to perjur themselves at the state of Santa Barbara’s expense, because one corrupt law enforcement official, Thomas Sneddon, was allowed to abuse the powers invested in him.

And now, Jackson, a man who championed the rights of vulnerable and deprived children round the world to be given access to health, enjoyment and safety, is being attacked without merit once more because he isn’t here to defend himself.

A defense team hawking an implausible array of theories and overtly banking on the 20 years plus of embedded misinformation that many still believe about a provably, innocent man, is now once again encouraging 12 jurors and public opinion to deny justice to Michael Jackson, a man undeservedly maligned for over two decades.

Want to know how we got here? Look at the media coverage that attended Jackson’s every waking moment while he lived, research the spurious accusations that ate away at Jackson’s self-esteem and sense of self. Yet he was still fighting, still about to go on stage, fighting the horrendous insomnia that undermined the very energy he needed to accomplish that.

Is Murray the primary cause of Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009? Seems likely. But lets not forget what came before and the large sections of egregious media people by ordinary men and women that also share responsibility for that.


Oct 12, 2011 8:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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