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Conrad Murray drug expert may hold key to doctor's defense

October 28, 2011 |  8:40 am

Dr. Paul White
The most important defense witness -– and probably its last -– will resume testimony Friday in the trial of Michael Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.

Dr. Paul White's early testimony Thursday was spent mostly laying out his credentials as an expert in propofol, the surgical anesthetic that led to the pop star's death. It remains unclear exactly how his testimony would advance the defense case.

Even White acknowledge that he could not explain Murray's treatment of Jackson.

"Let's deal with the elephant in the room here,"defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan said to White on Thursday. "Conrad Murray has been accused of infusing a dose of propofol and leaving his patient. Can you justify that?"

Witnesses: Who's who in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray

"Absolutely not," White replied.

Faced with blow after blow during the prosecution's case, the exchange was a strong indication that the defense plans to concede that Murray provided substandard care to Jackson, but argue that it does not rise to involuntary manslaughter. Murray has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter.

White must counter blistering testimony from his longtime friend and fellow anesthesiology expert Steven Shafer.

Over the course of five days, Shafer told jurors that a massive intravenous dose of propofol was allowed to continue dripping into Jackson even after the pop star stopped breathing. He also said that the drug levels were 40 times more than Murray acknowledged administering during his interview with police.


FULL COVERAGE: The trial of Conrad Murray

Conrad Murray trial: Caving in to a patient's demands?

Conrad Murray patient: 'I am alive today because of that man'

-- Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim

Photo: Defense witness Dr. Paul White, anesthesiologist and propofol expert, testifies in Dr. Conrad Murray's trial on Thursday. Credit: Paul Buck / Pool Photo