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Michael Jackson hearing: Coroner says drug dose amounted to 'homicide'

January 11, 2011 | 11:16 am

The medical examiner who ruled Michael Jackson’s death a homicide testified Tuesday he would stand by the classification even if it turned out the pop star gave himself the fatal dose of anesthetic.

Dr. Christopher Rogers made the statement as a lawyer for Jackson’s personal physician questioned him about the possibility the singer administered the anesthetic propofol when Dr. Conrad Murray wasn’t looking.

“Based on the quality of the medical care, I would still call this a homicide even if the doctor did not administer the propofol to Mr. Jackson,” said Rogers, chief of forensic medication at the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.

He said Murray had endangered Jackson by using the drug in a home setting without proper monitoring, regardless of who gave the final dose. The testimony was a blow to the defense.

Over the course of the six-day hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Murray for involuntary manslaughter, his lawyers have hinted they may argue for acquittal at trial by blaming Jackson for the fatal dose.

Rogers testified the pop star was in “excellent” health for a middle-aged man and died because of “substandard” medical care. The pathologist said Murray violated treatment norms with his use of propofol.

The drug, he said, is not indicated for insomnia and requires constant patient monitoring, which Murray did not provide.

“The information we received indicates that the doctor left Mr. Jackson while he was anesthetized and this is something you would not do,” Roger said.

Despite testimony from a paramedic that the singer was so underweight as to resemble a hospice patient, Rogers said Jackson was “normal weight” at 5 feet 9 and 136 pounds.


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-- Harriet Ryan at Los Angeles County Superior Court