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Jackson doc should have called 911 earlier: witness

02 november 2011, 10:36
Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray should have called 911 more quickly when he found the star not breathing, the medic's star witness conceded Monday as he clashed repeatedly with prosecutors, AFP reports.

As the climax of Murray's manslaughter trial looms with Murray increasingly besieged, Dr Paul White maintained that Jackson caused his own death by injecting propofol, but conceded the medic's actions were risky.

"I would have done things differently in terms of calling for help and calling 911," said White, who repeatedly clashed with prosecutor David Walgren, and was eventually reprimanded by the judge.

Murray himself made a rare comment Monday, saying he had not yet decided whether to testify himself -- a prospect thought unlikely until a few days ago, but possibly being considered as the defense case appears to be in tatters.

The trial has heard that Murray did not call 911 immediately on finding Jackson lifeless in a bedroom at his Los Angeles mansion, after spending the night trying in vain to help Jackson to get to sleep.

The medic, who says he had left the room for only two minutes, instead began giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before calling Jackson's personal assistant, who called a guard, who eventually called 911 some 20 minutes later.

White also conceded that Murray could have lied when he failed to tell paramedics and emergency room doctors about having given propofol in the hours before Jackson's death on June 25, 2009.

"I think it was something that he overlooked," White said initially, before being repeatedly questioned by Walgren over whether Murray could have been lying. "It's an option, yes," he said.

The heated exchanges came as the involuntary manslaughter trial entered its sixth week of testimony with the defense under fire over Murray's role in Jackson's death at the age of 50.

Walgren asked how much White had been paid for giving testimony in defense of Murray. The respected anesthesiologist said he had so far been given $11,000, but that he expected to receive more.

At one point judge Michael Pastor admonished White for straying in his answers, and ordered him to clearly answer Walgren's questions. A short time later he said White faces a $1,000 fine for contempt of court.

After White's testimony, the prosecution and defense had been expected to give their closing arguments, before the seven-man, five-woman jury retires to consider its verdict.

But at the end of Monday's hearings Murray's lawyers announced one more expert witness for Tuesday, while prosecutors said they plan to recall Dr Steven Shafer, their own propofol expert, to rebut testimony given by White.

And Murray himself suggested he could yet testify in his own defense. "I will still need more time. I have not made my decision. It depends on the progress of the trial," he said.

While many observers have difficulty seeing how Murray can escape a guilty verdict after four weeks of relentless prosecution testimony, the defense will hope to make a final appeal to sway the decision its way.

Murray faces up to four years in jail if convicted over Jackson's death from "acute propofol intoxication" in Los Angeles, where the singer was rehearsing for a series of planned comeback shows.

The prosecution claims that Murray, who was being paid $150,000 (105,000 euros) a month, killed Jackson by administering a deadly cocktail of drugs to help him sleep, and then abandoning him at the crucial moment.

The defense has sought to present Jackson as a desperate drug addict, who would have ended up killing himself with an accidental overdose with or without Murray's help.

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