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Conrad Murray asks appeals court for lab test on propofol bottle

July 30, 2012 | 12:10 pm

Conrad Murray in court Nov 7 2011

This post has been corrected; see note at bottom for details.

Dr. Conrad Murray asked an appellate court Monday to order lab testing on a piece of evidence that his defense said might cast doubt on his guilt in Michael Jackson’s death.

In a filing Monday, a lawyer for Murray asked justices for the Second District Court of Appeal to authorize forensic analysis on residue in a bottle of propofol taken from the bedroom of the pop star’s rented Holmby Hills mansion.

The 100-milliliter vial-–identified at Murray’s manslaughter trial last year as Exhibit 30-–has been described by prosecutors as the vessel for the fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic. Prosecutors contend Murray mixed a small amount of another anesthetic, lidocaine, with the propofol and administered it to the singer in June 2009 using an intravenous drip.

They theorized Murray didn’t notice his patient had stopped breathing because he was chatting on the phone. Murray’s defense maintained that he only administered a small amount of the drug and that while he was out of the room, Jackson injected himself with propofol from a syringe.

In the filing, Pasadena appellate attorney Valerie Wass wrote that the testing could determine the proportion of lidocaine to propofol in the vial and therefore which theory was true.

“If a forensic examination of the residue in Exhibit 30 revealed no lidocaine, it would completely negate [the prosecution expert’s] concluding theory…leaving only the theory of bolus injection just prior to Jackson’s death,” Wass wrote.

The request to test Exhibit 30 was the third by Murray’s lawyers. The trial judge, Michael Pastor of Los Angeles County Superior Court, refused a motion for the analysis shortly after the verdict in November 2011, saying that it was not timely. A subsequent request was declared moot.

A jury convicted Murray of involuntary manslaughter. He received a four-year sentence, but is expected to serve two years in county jail. He was suspended from the practice of medicine and state officials are moving to revoke his license permanently.

Wass, who is representing Murray pro bono, said she was unaware of the appellate justices ever granting such an order for forensic testing, but “I certainly felt strongly enough to give it a try.”

[For the record, July 30, 1:25 p.m.: A previous version of this post said both sides acknowledged that Exhibit 30 was the vessel for the fatal dose of propofol; but only prosecutors have described it as such. A previous version of this post also said Conrad's defense attorneys said Jackson injected himself with a lethal amount of propofol taken directly from the vial; they said he injected himself with propofol from a syringe.]  

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-- Harriet Ryan

Photo: Dr. Conrad Murray looks toward the jury prior to their guilty verdict in his involuntary manslaughter trial in November 2011 in a Los Angeles courtroom. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.

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