Conrad Murray witness: Jackson wanted unorthodox sleep drug
A holistic medical practitioner who tried to treat Michael Jackson's chronic insomnia testified Tuesday that the singer became frustrated with her natural remedies and told her that only a surgical anesthetic could help him sleep.
Nurse practitioner Cherilyn Lee told jurors at the manslaughter trial of Jackson's doctor that the singer initially seemed open to her regimen of herbal teas and vitamin injections.
But as the months progressed and he still struggled to sleep, he became "a tad upset" with her approach and repeatedly asked her to help him get Diprivan, the brand name of the drug propofol.
"The only thing that is going to help me is Diprivan and this is not working," Lee quoted Jackson as telling her in April 2009, two months before his overdose from the drug.
Lee was the second medical professional called to the stand by the defense to recount requests by Jackson for unorthodox sleep drugs. His longtime internist, Allan Metzger, testified Monday that during the same period, the singer asked for intravenous anesthetic to help his insomnia. Metzger said he refused to provide such a drug.
Lee said that she had never heard of Diprivan, but after looking it up in a drug reference book and speaking to a physician, she warned Jackson not to use it.
"He told me that doctors had told him that it was safe and he would not have a problem" as long as he was properly monitored, Lee said. She said she responded, "Well no doctor is going to do this at your house."
Murray has acknowledged giving Jackson propofol nightly for two months, beginning in the period he was seeking anesthetic from Lee and Metzger.
The defense has suggested Jackson had used propofol for insomnia on and off for a decade before his death. But Lee said he only mentioned receiving propofol once before while undergoing surgery.
"I'd fallen asleep so easily that I wanted to have that experience again," she quoted him as saying.
Lee's testimony was halted briefly after she said she was feeling dizzy. She broke into tears in the courthouse hallway, but then resumed the stand. She became emotional as she described her final conversation with Jackson. He told her how he needed someone to monitor him while he used propofol, she recalled, her voice choking.
Reading from Lee's medical records, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren asked if she had told him that "nobody who cared or had your best interest at heart is going to give you this."
"Yes, I did tell him that," she said.
Murray faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. His defense contends Jackson injected himself with a lethal amount of propofol after Murray tried to wean him from the drug.
-- Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim at Los Angeles Superior Court
Photo: Defense attorney Ed Chernoff approaches witness Cherilyn Lee, a nurse practitioner who treated Michael Jackson. Credit: Paul Buck / Pool photo