Prosecution rests in Michael Jackson doctor trial

LOS ANGELES Mon Oct 24, 2011 3:19pm EDT

1 of 8. Dr. Conrad Murray (C) sits with his attorneys J. Michael Flanagan (L) and Nareg Gourjian (R) during Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles October 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Paul Buck/Pool

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prosecutors rested their case against Michael Jackson's doctor on Monday after nearly four weeks of testimony and evidence against the man accused of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star's death.

The final witness to testify for prosecutors in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray was Dr. Steven Shafer. He told the jury Murray never should have given Jackson the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid at home and called Murray's treatment a "pharmacological 'Never-Never Land.'"

Murray has admitted giving Jackson propofol, the key drug that caused the "Thriller" singer's overdose, but defense attorneys have argued that Jackson gave himself an extra, fatal dose of the drug when Murray was absent.

Murray's attorneys called their first witness on Monday. They hope to finish presenting their case on Thursday.

Since the trial began roughly four weeks ago, jurors have heard from several doctors who slammed Murray's treatment of Jackson on June 25, 2009 -- the day the singer died -- and for not keeping records in the weeks he cared for the singer.

Prosecutors have put Murray's defense attorneys in a quandary by presenting the doctor's account to police of what happened in Jackson's final hours, then pointing out glaring inconsistencies between his statements and the evidence.

For instance, Murray never mentioned to police that he was on his phone after giving Jackson a cocktail of propofol and sedatives. But prosecutors have presented records showing Murray using his cell phone for more than 45 minutes before discovering that Jackson had stopped breathing.

Among the trials most dramatic moments, so far, was the playing of an audiotape Murray had recorded of Jackson's slurred and apparently drugged voice that gave the trial an emotional jolt as the singer talked about his desire to help children.

Moreover, defense attorneys have had to withdraw one of their key contentions about Jackson's drug use, telling the judge they would not try to convince jurors he swallowed propofol, as they had argued in hearings earlier this year.

Their reversal was due to the fact that scientific studies showed propofol has little effect when ingested orally. Still, defense attorneys have clung to their argument that Jackson could have taken more of the drug intravenously.

The first defense witness called to testify on Monday was a Beverly Hills police official, who discussed details about the call for an ambulance made from Jackson's mansion on the day he died.

Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter, faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

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