Michael Jackson's Doctor Defends Himself: Propofol 'Was Not an Issue'
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The doctor convicted of killing Michael Jackson remained silent during his trial, but Conrad Murray defended himself in interviews taped just days before a jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Murray defended his use of the surgical anesthetic propofol to put Jackson to sleep in interviews set to air Thursday and Friday on NBC's "Today" show. NBC released excerpts of the interview Wednesday.
"I think propofol is not recommended to be given in the home setting," Murray said, "but it is not contraindicated."
The Houston cardiologist also said Jackson had been using the substance long before the pop star met Murray.
Under questioning by the "Today" show's Savannah Guthrie, Murray said it was not necessary for him to monitor Jackson because he had given him only a small dose of propofol, and he said that was the reason he didn't mention it to paramedics when they arrived at Jackson's mansion.
"That's a very sad reason," he said, "because it was inconsequential — 25 milligrams and the effect's gone. Means nothing."
Guthrie asked, "Well, you told them about the other drugs, but you didn't tell them about propofol?"
"Because it had no effect," Murray said. "It was not an issue."
The coroner would subsequently find that Jackson, 50, died of "acute propofol intoxication" after a huge dose of the drug complicated by other sedatives.
Murray's defense tried to show that Jackson gave himself an extra dose of propofol while Murray was out of the room, but prosecution experts said there was no evidence of that and it was a crazy theory.
Asked by Guthrie if he became distracted by phone calls, emailing and text messages, Murray said, "No I was not."
"When I looked at a man who was all night deprived of sleep, who was desperate for sleep and finally is getting some sleep, am I gonna sit over him, sit around him, tug on his feet, do anything unusual to wake him up? No," Murray said.
"You walked out of the room to talk on the phone?" Guthrie asked.
"Absolutely, I wanted him to rest."
He insisted Jackson was not on an infusion that would stop his breathing and, "I was not supposed to be monitoring him at that time because there was no need for monitoring."
Other doctors testified at Murray's trial that leaving a patient alone after giving him an anesthetic was an egregious deviation from the standard of care expected of a physician.
In one exchange, Murray suggested that had he known that Jackson had a problem with addiction to medications he might have acted differently. Experts testified that he should have researched Jackson's medical history before he undertook his treatment for insomnia.
On the day Jackson died, June 25, 2009, Murray said he believed he had weaned the singer off of propofol, the drug Jackson called his "milk."
But when Jackson could not sleep, Murray told "Today," he gave the entertainer a very small dose of propofol.
In retrospect, he said he probably should have walked away when Jackson asked for propofol. But he said he would have been abandoning a friend.
Meanwhile, the disclosure that MSNBC will air a documentary about Murray brought outrage Wednesday from the executors of Jackson's estate, who said Murray is getting a prime-time platform to smear Jackson's reputation without fear of cross-examination.
The executors, John Branca and John McClain, demanded the program entitled "Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship" be cancelled. The network said it had no comment.
Murray, 58, was hired by Jackson at a promised salary of $150,000 a month to accompany the singer on his "This Is It" concert tour to London.
A jury that heard six weeks of testimony convicted Murray of involuntary manslaughter on Monday. He is now being held in Los Angeles County Jail awaiting sentencing Nov. 29 and could face up to four years in prison.
Defense attorney Ed Chernoff said in an interview aired on KCAL-TV Wednesday that he wasn't surprised by the verdict. "I can't say I was surprised," Chernoff said. "Look, it was a tough case."
Chernoff said earlier this week that the verdict was disappointing and would be appealed.
In a separate interview broadcast Wednesday, one of the jurors said there were contentious moments, including yelling and cajoling, during the two days of deliberations.
Debbie Franklin, 48, told ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" in the first juror interview so far that most of the jurors had decided on guilt Friday, the first day of deliberations.
But, she said "not everyone was convinced that Dr. Murray was solely responsible for Michael Jackson's death."
"Toward the end of the day, we finally took a vote," Franklin said. "It was not unanimous and we talked a little more about it."
The panel decided to think it over during a weekend break.
"It was stressful," said the mother of two, who is a paralegal. She said there was "yelling and we had to keep saying, 'Nobody talk while this person is talking. Raise your hand if you have something to say."
The majority managed on Monday to convince all jurors that Murray was negligent and his mistakes led to Jackson death, Franklin said.
"He had addictions. He asked other doctors to do it (give him the operating room anesthetic propofol). They said no. He was looking for somebody to say yes. And Conrad Murray said yes," she said.
An Associated Press reporter approached Franklin for an interview Wednesday but she refused. She said all jurors had agreed not to speak to the media, but she did not explain why they made that agreement or why she spoke to ABC.