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Conrad Murray defense: D.A. drug expert’s theory ‘out of thin air’

October 24, 2011 | 12:32 pm

Jackson case

Prosecutors wrapped up their case in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician Monday with the testimony of a prominent anesthesiologist who said Dr. Conrad Murray’s account of what happened in the singer’s house was not supported by scientific evidence.

In his fifth day on the stand, Dr. Steven Shafer was grilled by a defense attorney on his earlier testimony on how much of the anesthetic propofol Murray could have given Jackson, and by what method.

After ruling out various scenarios one by one, Shafer ultimately concluded that the only plausible explanation was that Murray gave Jackson an intravenous drip of propofol and left it flowing into the singer’s body even as his heart stopped.

He said he believed Murray had given Jackson 40 times more propofol than he admitted to police.

Attorney Ed Chernoff, in his cross examination, said the scenarios Shafer chose to consider were arbitrary. 

“You chose this out of thin air, you chose this example?” Chernoff asked.

“Yes,” Shafer replied.

Under questioning later by a prosecutor, Shafer said he had no choice but to speculate about what happened in the hours leading up to Jackson’s death because Murray kept no records –- something he said in earlier testimony was an egregious violation of standard of care.

Shafer also reiterated his opinion that there was no chance the pop star could have given himself the lethal dose of propofol –- what Murray’s attorneys told jurors was the cause of Jackson’s death.

“You were not able to find a scenario that could explain the blood levels and also self injection?” Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren asked.

FULL COVERAGE: The trial of Conrad Murray

“Correct,” the expert said.

After Shafer finished on the stand, prosecutors rested their case, clearing the way for Murray’s defense to begin calling witnesses.

Over four weeks, the government called 33 witnesses, many of whom alleged deceptions and incompetence by Murray in the months leading up to and the days following Jackson’s death.


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Photo: Dr. Steven Shafer, an expert on propofol, demonstrates how the anesthetic is extracted from a glass bottle. Credit: Reed Saxon / AFP/Getty Images