Jackson doctor won't testify as trial nears close

LOS ANGELES Tue Nov 1, 2011 4:24pm EDT

1 of 2. Dr. Conrad Murray speaks with a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy in the courtroom during his trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles November 1, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kevork Djansezian/Pool

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's doctor on Tuesday declined to testify as both the prosecution and defense rested their cases in the trial in which he is charged in the 2009 death of the pop star.

Asked by the judge whether he wanted to take the witness stand in his involuntary manslaughter trial, Dr. Conrad Murray replied: "My decision is that I will not testify in this matter, judge."

Murray had said on Monday he was still undecided about testifying.

His decision means that the only time the jury will have heard from Murray was in a two-hour tape of a police interview he gave two days after Jackson's death in June 2009.

Defense and prosecution lawyers later rested their cases after more than five weeks of evidence and 49 witnesses. The judge set closing arguments for Thursday.

Murray denies involuntary manslaughter, or gross negligence, in the case. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

He was caring for Jackson at his Los Angeles mansion when the 50-year-old pop star was found not breathing just a few weeks before a planned series of London comeback concerts. The singer was later ruled to have died from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol, combined with sedatives.

Murray admits giving Jackson a small dose of propofol as a sleep aid. But his attorneys have sought to convince the jury that the singer somehow gave himself an extra dose of the drug, without Murray's knowledge, and thus caused his own death.

Jurors have heard from more than half a dozen doctors, including one called by the defense, who said propofol is normally used to sedate patients for surgery and should not be given in a home setting where there is a lack of back-up personnel and medical equipment.

Propofol expert Dr. Paul White, the defense's last witness, said on Tuesday that it is not always necessary to have all the commonly accepted monitoring equipment on hand. He cited plastic surgery centers as an example.

But rival propofol expert, Dr. Steven Shafer, took a different view.

"If there was such a thing as bedroom-based anesthesia, the standard guidelines would be considered a minimum," Shafer said on Tuesday.

"Because there's no back-up, there's no tolerance for error. If you have an error, you'll have a mortality."

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Will Dunham)

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