This wasn’t the defense’s day.
Testimony in the involuntary manslaughter case against Conrad Murray resumed Tuesday after a long holiday weekend, the last words the jury having heard (other than the judge’s instructions to not text or tweet about the case) coming from a recording of Murray’s lengthy interview with a detective shortly after Michael Jackson died.
And they heard more from Murray-on-tape today, as well, as the doctor told police how he broke the news of Jackson’s passing to his family. Emotional, sure, but why did Michael’s mother Katherine and sister Rebbie—who’ve heard plenty of sensitive subjects addressed on the stand—take off after the first round of questioning this morning?
Dead Again: Michael’s mom and sis were tipped off by Deputy District Attorney David Walgren that he would be showing more postmortem photos of Jackson before the lunch break. Presumably, they felt no need to see that again, so they left. And sure enough, as they did on day one, the prosecution showed another gruesome photo of Jackson’s body postmortem and pre-autopsy. This time, however, the body was bare, his genitals blacked out for appropriateness’ sake. We’re pretty sure the prosecution doesn’t have to worry about convincing a jury that Jackson died, but we know that those with the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt burden of proof (i.e., prosecutors) prefer to hammer home the sad stuff as much as possible.
It’s Not Logical: Dr. Christopher Rodgers, the forensic pathologist who performed Jackson’s autopsy and ruled his death a homicide, dealt the biggest blow yet to Murray’s defense: Rodgers testified that he found the defense’s claim that Jackson ingested the fatal dose of propofol on his own, while Murray left the room for a few moments, “unreasonable.” What he does find reasonable, he said, was that Murray had “imperfect control over the dose and gave him too much.”
Brainteasers: While cross-examining Rodgers (and then recrossing after the redirect), defense attorney Michael Flanagan had to repeat himself and explain himself over and over again as Walgren and L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor complained that his questions didn’t make much sense. Flanagan was putting a spotlight on the lorazepam found in Jackson’s system in hopes he could raise doubt that the singer was too far sedated to give himself propofol. Rogers had testified that he found no traces of milky white liquid in Jackson’s mouth, esophagus or stomach, leading him to conclude it was highly unlikely that Jackson ingested it orally.
Two Can Play at This Game: Walgren wanted to make sure that the jury knew that Rodgers was an expert when it came to what he was trying to prove—not on what the defense was trying to disprove. He pointedly asked the pathologist if he was an expert on, or had ever published a paper about, pharmacology, specificially propofol or lorazepam. “No,” Rodgers replied. Walgren then asked if he was an expert at forensic pathology, a man who had devoted his career to determining causes of death. “Yes,” Rodgers replied.
Unanswerable Questions: Toward the end of his June 2009 interview with Det. Scott Smith, Murray described telling Katherine Jackson and Michael’s children about his death. “‘You save a lot of people. Why didn’t you save my daddy?'” he remembered Paris Jackson asking him. “‘I know you tried your best, I know you tried your best.’ Then,” Murray said, “she asked to see him, and then that was another thing. How do you let the children see him?”
by NATALIE FINN