Expert: Swallowing propofol wouldn't kill Jackson

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An expert in the powerful anesthetic blamed for Michael Jackson's death told jurors Thursday there is no way the pop star could have caused his own death by swallowing the drug, a theory defense attorneys had suggested might be a centerpiece of their case.

Dr. Steven Shafer was testifying on what is expected to be the final day of the prosecution's involuntary manslaughter case against Dr. Conrad Murray. He said it's impossible for any of the drug that's swallowed to enter the bloodstream, where coroner's officials found the drug after Jackson's death in June 2009.

Defense attorneys have said they have abandoned their theory, but it was included in a report by their propofol expert, Dr. Paul White. White is expected to testify during the defense's case, which will begin on Friday.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He was Jackson's personal doctor for about two months before the singer's unexpected death.

Shafer told jurors Wednesday that 17 violations by Murray each put Jackson's life at risk. Many concerned modern lifesaving equipment that Murray lacked when he gave Jackson propofol in the bedroom of his rented mansion to fight the singer's insomnia, but Shafer said among the cardiologist's worst transgressions was he put his own interests ahead of Jackson's.

He likened the cardiologist to an employee, akin to a housekeeper, who wouldn't tell his boss no.

"Saying yes is not what doctors do," he testified. "A competent doctor would know you do not do this."

Shafer, who helped write the guidelines and warnings included with every vial of propofol, repeatedly said Murray's actions were unconscionable, unethical and illegal.

He said Murray's case is unlike any he's seen before.

"We are in pharmacological never-never land here, something that was done to Michael Jackson and no one else in history to my knowledge," he told jurors.

Shafer's testimony tied together pieces of prosecution's case against Murray laid out over four weeks. He reminded jurors that Murray had bought more than four gallons of propofol to use on the singer during his employment, was on the phone in the hours before Jackson's death and delayed calling for help when he found the singer unresponsive.

"The worst disasters occur in sedation and they occur when people cut corners," Shafer said. In Jackson's case, "virtually none of the safeguards were in place."

Testimony has shown that Murray took no notes on his treatment of Jackson and didn't record his vital signs in the hours before the singer's death.

Shafer said he was testifying for the prosecution without a fee because he wants to restore public confidence in doctors who use propofol, which he called a wonderful drug when properly administered.

"I am asked every day in the operating room, 'Are you going to give me the drug that killed Michael Jackson?'" Shafer said. "This is a fear that patients do not need to have."

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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

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McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP
Associated Press
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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