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Michael Jackson took drugs that 'killed him instantly,' doctor's lawyer says

Dr. Conrad Murray 'acted with gross negligence' in Michael Jackson's death, the prosecutor said in opening arguments, but the defense said the pop star ingested a lethal 'perfect storm' of drugs.

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Propofol is usually administered in a surgical setting, such as a hospital or clinic and is not a medically-accepted sleep aid. Nonetheless, Murray agreed to deliver injected and intravenous doses to Jackson in his Los Angeles mansion.

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Prosecutors say Murray lied to a pharmaceutical supplier to obtain the substantial quantity of propofol demanded by Jackson. Walgren said that by June 2009, Murray had purchased more than four gallons of propofol, apparently for Jackson’s use.

The prosecutor said rather than a doctor-patient relationship, the connection between Murray and Jackson was that of employee-employer. “Murray was not working for the benefit of Michael Jackson or the health of Michael Jackson, he was working for $150,000 a month,” Walgren said.

The prosecutors told the jury that to find Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter they must agree that he had engaged in serious neglect and gross negligence in Jackson’s death.

Walgren said the fact that Murray was using propofol to treat insomnia was itself gross negligence. He said the glaring lack of monitoring and emergency resuscitation equipment in Jackson’s home was gross negligence. Murray’s decision to leave his sedated patient alone, unmonitored, even for a few moments, was gross negligence, the prosecutor said. And the doctor’s failure to immediately call 911 upon discovering that Jackson had stopped breathing was also gross negligence.

“Basic common sense requires that 911 be called immediately – basic common sense. And we know that wasn’t done,” Walgren told the jury.

Defense attorney Chernoff countered that Murray was trying to wean Jackson off his dependence on propofol and steering him toward other medications. “He had always told Michael Jackson you can’t keep using this,” the lawyer said.

Chernoff said Jackson had developed an addiction to another drug, Demerol, a narcotic pain medication, and was obtaining quantities of it from a Beverly Hills dermatologist.

A side effect of the addiction and attempted withdrawal, he said, is an absolute inability to sleep. Chernoff said Dr. Murray had no idea Jackson had a Demerol dependence and continuing access to the drug through a different physician.

The defense attorney told the jury that an expert witness will testify that Murray could not have killed Jackson if he administered the level of propofol he reported to investigators.

“The science will prove that there had to be more propofol delivered to Michael Jackson’s system after Dr. Murray left the room,” Chernoff said. He told the jury that at some point Jackson swallowed up to eight doses of the anti-anxiety drug Lorazepam without telling Murray, and that after Murray gave him a modest dose of propofol, Jackson gave himself an additional dose.

“It killed him, like that,” Chernoff said. “And there was no way to save him.”

The trial is set to continue on Wednesday.

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