Defence lawyers for Michael Jackson's former doctor will claim the singer's death was a suicide, prosecutors claimed yesterday.
Deputy district attorney David Walgren alleged that Dr Conrad Murray's attorneys are "running with ... the theory [that] Michael Jackson killed himself" on 25 June 2009, when the star was found dead at his California home. "They don't want to say it but that's the direction in which they are going," Walgren told the court.
Walgren's claims were made at a hearing concerning syringes and an intravenous drip found at Jackson's bedside, which Murray's defence says were not adequately examined. Coroner's officials should have done "quantitative analysis" to determine "the means of who injected Jackson", according to attorney J Michael Flanagan. Although the coroner's office found lethal concentrations of propofol, an anaesthetic, in Jackson's blood, Murray denies having administered such a high dosage.
According to Flanagan, Murray says he administered only 25 milligrams of propofol to the singer, whom Murray was treating for insomnia. But as much as 150 mg would have had to be administered for the concentration to reach the level that killed Jackson. When Murray briefly went into another room, there is the suggestion that Jackson – desperate for sleep – could have injected himself with more medication. Flanagan told superior court judge Michael Pastor that a broken syringe was found on the bedroom floor beside Jackson, with a fingerprint that has not yet been analysed.
Although Judge Pastor eventually accepted Flanagan's argument, allowing testing on several items, Walgren waved away the defence's criticism of the coroner's office, saying the district attorney had always been open to this analysis. But he also suggested that this was a smokescreen. "I do think it's clear the defence is operating under the theory that the victim, Michael Jackson, killed himself," he said.
Outside the courtroom, Murray's defence refused to comment on Walgren's statement. "I'm not going to respond to that characterisation," Flanagan told CNN, "but apparently it is a consideration of Mr Walgren."
The preliminary hearing for Murray will begin on 4 January. The physician has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010