Dr. Conrad Murray’s defense endured a difficult stretch Monday as his most important expert witness in the Michael Jackson manslaughter case was held in contempt of court and fined $1,000.
Dr. Paul White, an expert in propofol – the powerful anesthesia blamed for the pop star’s death – was found to have repeatedly violated the court’s orders to refrain from testifying about private conversations with Murray.
“Quite frankly, this constitutes direct contempt of court,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor told White, the defense’s final witness.
White has told the jury he believes that Jackson took extra doses of two drugs while Murray’s back was turned. White suggested on Monday that it wasn’t a suicide attempt and that, “I don’t think [Jackson] realized the potential danger.”
Monday marked the second time Pastor held White in contempt – the first time was Oct. 21, after White was overheard calling a member of the prosecution team a profanity, which White denies. Pastor ordered White back Nov. 16 for a hearing.
The sanction was ordered after an intense interchange between White and lead prosecutor David Walgren in which White conceded that Murray’s treatment of Michael Jackson deviated from standards of care, many of which are delineated in articles and books by White.
White conceded that it was unheard of for Murray to administer propofol in a home setting, that Murray lacked sufficient monitoring equipment for administering an anesthetic, that Murray failed to write notes about his treatment of Jackson, and that Murray should have called 911 sooner.
But White repeatedly refused to concede that these were “egregious” violations.
When Walgren asked if it was true that Murray supplied propofol, White countered that he understood that Jackson procured his own propofol stash as well, and that he believed Jackson could have injected propofol from a partially-filled syringe that Murray may have left in Jackson’s bedroom.
Pastor then sent the jury outside and complained that White was supposed to base such responses on Murray’s statements to detectives and not any private conversations between White and Murray.
Later in the morning, White testified that he had additional information to share with the jury but the judge told him he couldn’t, which Pastor interpreted as a further violation.
BY HOWARD BREUER