The prosecution’s main expert told jurors Wednesday he finds Dr. Conrad Murray’s treatment of Michael Jackson “egregious,” “difficult to comprehend,” and “inexcusable.” In fact, Dr. Steven Schafer testified to 17 different “unconscionable” ways Murray’s treatment could have contributed to the death of the music legend.
Schafer, an anesthesiologist who wrote the packaging insert for propofol – the main drug blamed in Jackson’s death – also told the jury in the fourth week of the involuntary manslaughter trial that Murray behaved more like an employee who was following Jackson’s orders than a doctor whose priority was his patient’s health.
“If Dr. Murray had acted like a doctor, the first time Michael had said, ‘I need propofol to sleep,’ Dr. Murray would have said, ‘You have a sleep disorder and you need to be evaluated by a sleep doctor. I am not giving you anything,'” testified Schafer, a professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University and one of the prosecution’s final witnesses.
Schafer, whose testimony will stretch across three days, explained there were many things Murray did on June 25, 2009, that every doctor knows not to do – and many of these errors led to the pop star’s death at age 50 from acute propofol intoxication.
Among his claims faulting Jackson’s doctor:
• Murray should not have administered the toxic anesthetic and other dangerous drugs in the singer’s bedroom without proper monitoring equipment.
• Murray should not have attempted to treat insomnia with propofol.
• Murray failed to keep any kind of medical records.
• Murray should not have left the room without another physician watching Jackson.
• Murray incompetently administered CPR by pushing down with one hand on Jackson’s chest with Jackson still on his bed instead of a hard surface.
• Schafer was particularly indignant that Murray telephoned Jackson’s personal assistant and left a voice mail message long before 911 was called.
“That is so egregious that I actually find it difficult to comprehend – you have a patient who has been arrested and you call and leave a voice message for someone … That is so completely and utterly inexcusable,” Schafer testified. “Dr. Murray was quite clueless as to what to do.”
Many of the seven men and five women of the jury took copious notes during Schafer’s testimony, which should conclude Thursday. The defense is expected to present its witnesses, including its own anesthesia expert, starting on Friday and conclude their case next week.
Murray claims he was trying to wean Jackson off propofol, that he administered a minuscule, 25mg dose of the drug, and that he left Jackson’s side for only two minutes to go to the bathroom before noticing that Jackson stopped breathing. If convicted, Murray could receive up to four years in prison, although home detention is also a possibility
BY HOWARD BREUER