A cardiologist testifying at the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor said Wednesday that Conrad Murray’s treatment of Jackson was “unethical” and that there were multiple extreme deviations from proper standards of care that he felt made Murray responsible for the singer’s death.
Dr. Alon Steinberg pointed to six deviations from standards that he considered examples of “gross negligence” on Murray’s part. First was the use of the anesthetic propofol to put Jackson to sleep at all. The second was doing it in Jackson’s home without the proper equipment or staffing.
Steinberg’s third deviation was that Murray did not appear to have been prepared for an emergency. Fourth, Murray did not follow proper protocols after Jackson went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. Fifth was the delay in calling 911, which he said Murray should have done immediately. Finally, he noted that Murray did not maintain medical records for Jackson.
“You put all of those together,” Steinberg testified, “yes, he’s responsible.”
Steinberg, one of the final witnesses prosecutors plan to call in their case, repeatedly insisted that Jackson could have been saved if Murray had sought help within minutes of finding Jackson in arrest.
However, all of Steinberg’s testimony was based on the information Murray provided in his interview with police days after Jackson’s death. Testimony at the trial has already indicated that at least some of the details of the timeline Murray gave at the time were inaccurate.
On cross examination, defense attorney Michael Flanagan pressed Steinberg about his assumption that Murray was only out of the room for two minutes when Jackson became unresponsive, as Murray claimed in his police interview. Prosecutors have presented evidence suggesting that Murray may have been on the phone with a girlfriend for about five minutes before the moment they believe he noticed Jackson was in arrest.
“He should have documented the exact times…This way, we would know,” Steinberg replied when asked about the possibility that Murray’s time estimates were unreliable.
Later, when Flanagan raised the issue again, Steinberg said, “It would have been nice to have medical records and documentation,” referring back to one of the deviations from standards of care that he had identified.
Steinberg testified that he was aware of a study in 2010 that involved successfully treating insomnia with propofol, but in 2009, when Murray was treating Jackson, he said, “There was absolutely no medical knowledge that you can give propofol for sleep…It is absolutely not a viable source of treatment.”
Earlier on Wednesday, defense attorneys notified the judge and prosecutors that they will no longer be presenting the theory that Jackson ingested the propofol that killed him orally. Instead, CNN reported that they will suggest that Jackson injected the drug through his leg when Murray was out of the room.
After Steinberg, prosecutors are expected to call an anesthesiologist and a sleep expert before they rest their case, which could happen before the end of this week.
If convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Jackson’s death, Murray could face up to four years in prison.