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Witness: Conrad Murray more like employee than doctor to Jackson

October 19, 2011 |  3:29 pm

Dr. Steve Shafer
The final prosecution witness against Michael Jackson's personal physician told a jury Wednesday afternoon that the singer's death was directly related to an "employee-employer" relationship that developed between the doctor and his famous patient.

Dr. Steven Shafer, a New York anesthesiologist and expert witness for the government, said Dr. Conrad Murray let the singer order him around like he would a house cleaner.

Full coverage of Conrad Murray trial

"What I saw was a patient who stated what he wanted. 'I want this. I want this. I want this.' And I saw Conrad Murray said, 'Yes. Tell me what you want and I'll do it. That is what an employee is,' " Shafer said.

When Jackson told him he wanted a powerful anesthetic to cure his insomnia, Shafer testified, "Dr. Murray should have said, 'Michael Jackson, I am not giving you propofol. I am not giving you anything. You have a sleep disorder and you need to be evaluated."

Jackson died June 25, 2009, from an overdose of propofol. Murray contends the singer gave himself the fatal dose.

Shafer called the amount of propofol Murray had ordered in the months leading up to Jackson's death "an extraordinary amount to purchase to administer to a single individual." He said his calculations showed more than four gallons of the liquid drug shipped to Murray averaging out to nearly 2,000 milligrams per day. In a police interview, the doctor said he had given only a single 25 milligram dose to Jackson before his death.

Shafer said Murray committed at least a dozen "egregious" violations of the standard of care, which he defined as acts that posed a foreseeable danger to his patient's life. These acts included a lack of monitoring equipment for his heart, breathing and blood pressure and the failure to keep medical records.

"Each one individually could be expected to lead to a catastrophic outcome including death," Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren asked.

"Absolutely," the expert answered.

Shafer, a professor at Columbia University, previously narrated a video showing the proper procedures for using propofol.

"The facts in this case, in my view, suggest that virtually none of the safeguards for sedation were in place when propofol was administered to Michael Jackson," Shafer said.

Murray's lawyers are to open his defense Friday.


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Photo: Dr. Steven Shafer testifies during the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.

Credit: Reed Saxon / Pool photo