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Jackson doctor has 'ever-changing defense,' prosecutor says

A deputy district attorney in Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial goes on the attack after the defense team drops its theory that Jackson swallowed the anesthetic propofol. The defense contends the decision was made months ago.

October 15, 2011|By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times
  • Deputy L.A. County Dist. Atty. David Walgren criticized Dr. Conrad Murray's defense team Friday. Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case next week.
Deputy L.A. County Dist. Atty. David Walgren criticized Dr. Conrad Murray's… (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times )

A prosecutor on Friday accused attorneys representing Michael Jackson's personal physician of putting on an "ever-changing defense" by dropping their contention that the pop star swallowed the anesthetic that led to his death.

In a hearing outside the jury's presence Friday, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren remarked on the announcement this week that the defense had ruled out a theory it had previously argued — that Jackson had ingested the anesthetic propofol — because it wasn't supported by science.

"We're dealing with an ever-changing defense," Walgren said Friday. "It was just two days ago they abandoned oral propofol."

Attorneys representing Dr. Conrad Murray in the physician's involuntary manslaughter trial continue to maintain that Jackson gave himself the lethal dose by injection.

Murray's attorney J. Michael Flanagan said the prosecutor's claim wasn't true and that the defense decided in May that it would not be arguing the drug was consumed orally.

Walgren's comments came at a hearing on items of evidence and witnesses, concluding the third week of trial.

A prosecutor said the prosecution expected to wrap up its case early next week once its final witness, propofol expert Dr. Steven Shafer, finishes his testimony.

The defense said it expected to put on about 15 witnesses, including police officers, experts and character witnesses.

Expert witnesses for the defense will include Dr. Paul White, who a defense attorney told jurors was considered "the father of propofol" by his peers, as well as a toxicologist.

Some of Murray's patients at a Houston charity clinic will also be called, defense attorneys said.

Also on Friday, defense attorney Nareg Gourjian objected to a photo of the pop star's three children at his funeral and rehearsal footage from the film "This Is It" being admitted as evidence, claiming they were prejudicial and irrelevant.

"I certainly understand there can be a, quote, sympathy, unquote, factor when children are involved," Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said. But the judge said the photo was "not inflammatory" and that it was relevant because there was testimony involving the children. He also ruled that the film clips were relevant.

At the beginning of Friday's hearing, Pastor chided the two prosecutors on the case for being six minutes late, telling them that the delays had "been a recurring problem."

The judge fined each of them $60 at $10 per minute, but he said he would defer and reconsider the fine at a later time.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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