Nurse to recount Jackson's pleas for anesthetic
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jurors hearing the case against the doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death are getting another look at the singer's life as defense attorneys try to portray him as desperate for sleep and eager to obtain the powerful anesthetic that authorities say killed him.
The panel will hear Tuesday from Cherilyn Lee, a nurse practitioner who has said Jackson repeatedly asked her for propofol to help him sleep, but she refused. Lee began her testimony Monday, the sixth witness that Dr. Conrad Murray's attorneys called to try to shift the blame for Jackson's death to the singer himself.
Murray's team plans Tuesday to call other witnesses who they think may support that theory, including Randy Phillips, the president and CEO of concert promoter AEG Live, and Jackson's makeup artist and hairstylist, Karen Faye. They will also call several expert witnesses who will try to rebut the testimony of prosecution experts who said Murray was reckless and at fault in Jackson's unexpected death on June 25, 2009.
Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
The defense's case now appears to hinge on their claim that Jackson gave himself a fatal dose of propofol. In a court filing Monday, Murray's attorneys argued that they should be allowed to show jurors the agreement between Jackson and AEG Live to show that Jackson had much to lose if he couldn't perform 50 comeback concerts planned for London's O2 arena.
AEG would have been allowed to recoup its investment in the shows and advances paid to Jackson if he couldn't perform, the filing states.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor will consider whether to allow the agreement and testimony about it by Phillips, although he has previously excluded any evidence of Jackson's financial hardships.
"This evidence directly supports the defense theory of the case — that Mr. Jackson self-administered propofol due to the enormous pressure and stress placed on him pursuant to the agreement," the defense filing states. "Mr. Jackson's mental state on June 25, 2009 is highly relevant to the defense in this case."
Murray's attorneys expect Faye will testify that Jackson was distraught about completing the comeback shows.
One of the initial defense witnesses, Dr. Allan Metzger, supported prosecutors' contentions that Murray acted recklessly by giving Jackson propofol as a sleep aid and that the singer was looking forward to the show.
"He was excited," Metzger said of Jackson's demeanor during conversations and a house call in the months before the singer's death. "He was talking to me about some creative things that he was thinking about. He spoke to me about his excitement and his fear about the tour."
Metzger said Jackson felt the shows were a big obligation and he wanted to deliver stellar performances.
The doctor, who knew and treated Jackson for more than 15 years, testified the pop superstar asked him about IV medications during his house call.
On cross-examination, Metzger said he told Jackson that using any IV drugs or anesthetics to sleep was unsafe.
"You explained to him that it that was dangerous, life-threatening and should not be done outside of a hospital, correct," prosecutor David Walgren asked the doctor.
"That's correct," he replied.
"Was there any amount of money that would have convinced you to give him intravenous propfol in his house?" Walgren asked.
"Absolutely not," Metger said.
Lee was similarly against Jackson taking propofol to help him sleep. She told The Associated Press in 2009 that the singer repeatedly asked for the drug while she was treating him for nutrition and sleep issues.
"I said, 'Michael, the only problem with you taking this medication' — and I had a chill in my body and tears in my eyes three months ago — 'the only problem is you're going to take it and you're not going to wake up,'" she recalled telling Jackson.
Lee kept detailed notes of her treatments on Jackson, which she flipped through repeatedly while testifying Monday.
According to prosecutors, Murray kept no notes on his treatments on Jackson after signing on as his personal physician for the London shows.
Defense attorneys expect to conclude their case Thursday, but even if they do, jurors won't begin deliberations until next week. A judge told attorneys that he would give them the weekend to craft their closing arguments and finalize jury instructions.
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.
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