Michael Jackson 'probably' addicted to Demerol — defense witness
Michael Jackson was “probably” addicted to Demerol provided by his Beverly Hills dermatologist, a specialist in addiction medicine told jurors Thursday at the trial of the singer’s personal physician.
Dr. Robert Waldman, testifying as a defense expert, detailed medical records that indicated dermatologist Arnold Klein injected the singer with increasingly large doses of the painkiller during offices visits for Botox and another wrinkle remover.
“I believe there’s evidence he was dependent on Demerol,” Waldman said.
“What about addicted,” a defense lawyer pressed.
“Possibly,” the witness replied, adding that based on the records and “what’s known about his public behavior, he was probably addicted to opioids.”
Dr. Conrad Murray’s defense rests on a theory that Klein hooked Jackson on Demerol a few months before his death and that the singer suffered chronic insomnia as a result of drug withdrawal.
Defense lawyers contend Jackson injected himself with a fatal dose of propofol, a surgical anesthetic, to get to sleep before important rehearsals.
Those close to Jackson told police that visits to Klein’s office left the singer woozy, but Murray claimed he never asked his famous patient for details of the treatment.
Waldman said he had no expertise in dermatology, but had consulted doctors in the field who told him the dermatological procedures Jackson was receiving -- shots of Botox and a wrinkle filler, Restylane -– did not cause the severe pain that would require such doses of Demerol.
Klein’s medical records showed Jackson had received as much as 375 milligrams of Demerol in a 90-minute period. A typical dose is 50 milligrams, he said.
The amount Klein gave Jackson would leave him “sleepy, lethargic, possibly difficult to arouse, possibly unresponsive,” Waldman said.
On cross-examination, a prosecutor implied Waldman’s conclusions were irrelevant to the manslaughter case before the jury.
“You understand there is no Demerol in the toxicology findings” from Jackson’s autopsy, asked Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren.
“Correct,” Waldman replied.
“Would you diagnose Michael Jackson as addicted to Demerol based strictly on the documents in my hand?” the prosecutor asked.
“Probably not,” Waldman acknowledged.
The defense wanted to call Klein as a witness, but prosecutors objected, saying Murray was seeking to confuse the jury by blaming another party.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor barred the defense from calling the dermatologist, but allowed the introduction of 36 pages of his medical records. Those records, as laid out in court, show Jackson frequently visited Klein’s office in the months leading up to his death.
Klein was among a number of physicians investigated after the pop star’s June 25, 2009, death. Only Murray was charged.
Jurors are expected to begin deliberating the case next week. If Murray is convicted of involuntary manslaughter, he faces a maximum of four years in prison.
— Harriet Ryan at Los Angeles County Superior Court
Photo: Dr. Robert Waldman, left, on the stand Thursday in Dr. Conrad Murray's trial. At right is defense attorney Ed Chernoff. Credit: Paul Buck / Pool