2014. május 16., péntek

Trial of Conrad Murray

Trial of Conrad Murray
Michael Jackson’s physician
People of the State of California vs Conrad Murray

My third blog entry is about the trial of Conrad Murray, who was Michael Jackson’s physician. In June 25, 2009 the pop star died in his own apartment. Thousands of his fanatics bemoaned the death of the musician.  Two years later, in 2011, the entire media echoed from the trial of his doctor; Conrad Murray. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter; he overdosed the pop star with the anesthetic propofol. After a 24-day long trial, the verdict was made by the judge. Conrad was found guilty, and was sentenced to four years in prison. The judge suspended Conrad’s medical license before the trial. Although many people believed in the innocence of the doctor, especially those who knew that Michael was addicted to several prescription drugs, there were people who felt that Jackson died because of the malpractice of Dr.Murray.
It seems probable that AEG Live, the concert-promoter of Michael Jackson’s “This is it” tour, hired Conrad Murray. After the tragic death of the pop star, the owners of the promoting company denied the fact that they offered the job to the doctor. Even though this was a separate trial( because the judge did not allow to use the contract of AEG Live and Conrad Murray as an evidence in the case of Michael Jackson’s death), I believe that it is very much related to the trial of Conrad Murray. Michael Jackson’s family hired prestigious lawyers and they declared the following statement after the trial about the employment of Dr.Conrad Murray; “We found the truth. AEG hired Dr. Conrad Murray, the man who is in jail for killing Michael Jackson.”

The following web pages helped me a lot in writing the blog post:

I hope that my third blog post will be easily comprehensible and enjoyable for my readers.

You can find my previous blog entry about the Trial of OJ Simpson at the following link:

Historical bearings

Michael Jackson in 2009
Conrad Murray started working as a doctor in 1999. Michael Jackson’s concert promoter got in touch with him in 2009, and hired the doctor as a personal physician for the star’s annual concert tour. Michael decided to pay a prestigious monthly fee (150,000 USD/month) 1 for the doctor for his service. It seems that they hired him, because of the pop star’s complicated medical issues. Michael consumed dozens of different types of medicines and it is quite obvious that in such a case there is a need for a professional to control such an addiction. When the police investigated the pop star’s house, they found more than 20 prescriptions. According to police reports Michael had been an insomniac for some time and he often begged his employees (such as Dr.Murray or a nurse called Cherilyn Lee) to give him propofol (the medicine he used most of the time). In his final months, the employees often refused his requests, with the exception of Dr.Murray. The doctor dosed an amount of propofol for Michael every night, even though he feared that the pop star might get addicted. This went on for months without any problems but on June 25, 2009 Michael Jackson passed away and people began to believe that Dr.Murray may have maltreated the pop star.

The chronology of the trial
1    2006:  Michael Jackson met Conrad Murray for the first time.
2.    2009: Michael Jackson’s concert promoter (AEG Live) hires Conrad Murray as a personal physician for the pop star’s concert tour.
3.    June 25, 2009: Michael Jackson dies in his apartment.
4.    Mid-August 2009: DEA agents, LA and Houston police officers investigated in Dr.Murray’s medical office.
5.    2010: Conrad Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter
6.    September 27, 2011: The trial of Conrad Murray begins
7.    November 7, 2011: Conrad Murray is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and taken into custody without bail.
8.    November 29, 2011: Conrad Murray is sentenced to the maximum penalty of four years in prison
9.    October 28, 2013: Conrad Murray is released from prison due to the California prison overcrowding and because of his good behavior. His medical license remained suspended in the three states where he practiced as a doctor.
       The trial:
 Members of the prosecution: David Walgren, Deborah Brazil
 Members of the defense: Edward Chernoff, Matthew Alford, J.Michael Flanagan, Nareg Gourjian
 Judge: Michael Pastor

 Edward Chernoff with Conrad Murray

The trial of Conrad Murray began on the 27th of September, 2011. Both the prosecution and the defense made opening statements in front of the jury. The jury heard a recording of Michael Jackson’s speech recorded near the end of his life. The defense noted that Jackson was addicted to several medicines and even though Dr.Murray told him on the night of his death not to consume more drugs, the pop star swallowed dozens of medicines which killed him in a short time. The prosecution replied by saying that “the misplaced trust in Conrad Murray cost Michael Jackson his life”. The first witness invited to the trial was Kenny Ortega; a director, who worked on Jackson’s “This is it” concerts. Two days later, two members of the pop star’s staff, Kai Chase who worked as a chef and Alberto Alvarez, a bodyguard, appeared in the courtroom. Alvarez was the first person who entered Jackson’s room after his death and he told that Murray asked him to remove several bottles of pills and medicines, before calling 911(emergency number). On the 30th of September an emergency worker from the UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Richelle Cooper, testified in front of the jury; Dr.Cooper told that Michael Jackson was not pronounced dead until the ambulance reached the hospital, but the ambulance men did not see any signs of life on Michael from the moment they stepped into the pop star’s room. On the 3rd of October Dr.Cooper continued testifying. The doctor told that, several types of medicines were found in Jackson’s body and he also noted that the man in the ambulance car continuously conducted chest compressions on the singer’s body. Cooper told that he talked to Dr.Murray about Michael and the doctor told that he gave the pop star several doses of lorazepam that probably led to a cardiac arrest. Another doctor, Dr Thao Nguyen testified and he told that the staff knew that the patient was considered “VIP”, and they were prepared to fight for his life until the last minute. The doctor also noted that such a large amount of medicine is more likely to be used for sedation than it is used for curing insomnia. The doctor noted two important things; the drug found in Jackson’s body – propofol- could be used strictly in a hospital setting under observation of doctors because of its seriousness. The other thing Dr. Nguyen stated was that Dr.Murray never even mentioned him propofol.
On the 4th of October other people testified; Stacey Ruggles, Michelle Bella, Sade Anding, Nicole Alvarez and Tim Lopez. Anding told in front of the jury, that Dr. Murray called her, when he realized that Jackson wasn’t breathing; the woman also told that she heard coughing in the phone – she noted that she probably heard Michael Jackson’s death.

Sade Anding

Nicole Alvarez (Dr.Murray’s girlfriend) testified that she continuously accepted FedEx packages under Dr.Murray’s name – the packages contained various types of medicines, including propofol.
Tim Lopez, who was working at a pharmacy service, testified that Dr.Conrad Murray ordered propofol along with other types of medicines from him, from April to June 2009.
On the 5th of October Sally Hirschberg, a sales employee of “Seacost Medical” testified. She told that Dr.Murray ordered various types of medicines from the company. These medicines (according to Ms.Hirschberg) were typical drugs used for cardiovascular treatment. She also added that on June 26, 2009 the doctor cancelled the rest of his orders. On the same day Elissa Fleak was called to testify. She was the coroner from the Los Angeles Police Department who arrived at the hospital and examined Jackson’s corpse. She did not find any signs of murder or suicide. Later she went to Jackson’s apartment and investigated the bedroom where she found dozens of medical equipments (such as blood bags, pulse oximeter and various types of drugs). She also found propofol bottles – this was the drug with which Conrad Murray involuntary killed Michael Jackson according to the jury. The defense (lead by Edward Chernoff) attacked the coroner by saying that she committed a series of mistakes during the investigation; she did not take pictures about the propofol bottle properly, even though this was the drug considered the major evidence against Dr.Murray. The defense also suggested that the woman changed her mind of the propofol in order to support the statements of other witnesses. Next called to testify was Dan Anderson, a prestigious toxicologist at the coroner’s office. The gentleman testified that he tested the blood and urine samples of Michael Jackson and the results were the following; propofol was found in all the samples. The defense attacked the toxicologist’s statement by telling that the detected drugs in the samples could have entered the body of the singer days before the death of the pop star, and so they weren’t reliable.
A detective from the Los Angeles Police Department was called to testify on the 7th of October (it was the 9th day of the trial). He was among the first officers who arrived at the hospital. While he was on the stand a voice tape of the interrogation of Conrad Murray was played. The interrogation took place in Ritz Carlton Hotel, and Orlando Martinez, a police officer asked the questions from the doctor. In the interrogation Conrad Murray stated the following:
-       After the rehearsal Michael Jackson went back to his apartment around 1.AM. He took a shower and Dr.Murray put cream on his leg in order to prevent dehydration. Dr.Murray sat next to his bed waiting for the singer to fall asleep. Jackson couldn’t sleep and he asked for medicine. At 2.AM Dr.Murray gave him both lorazepam and midazolam. Since Jackson could not fall asleep until 10. AM, Dr.Murray repeatedly gave pills (the aforementioned types) to the singer. They weren’t working… Around this time Jackson begged for propofol (which he called milk). Dr.Murray wanted to refuse Jackson’s request but the singer continuously complained about his concerts and the stress he experienced. He said that he must sleep in order not to cancel the events. Finally Conrad Murray decided to give Michael propfol. He gave only 25 mg instead of the usual 50 mg because he knew that the singer already consumed dozens of medicines during the night and the dawn. Dr.Murray also gave lidocaine to Michael in order to make the consumption of propofol comfortable. Propofol has an effect that causes feelings of burning, but lidocaine helped Michael to tolerate the pain.
The singer finally fell asleep, and Dr.Murray felt comfortable. He went to the bathroom only for 2 minutes and when he came back he saw that Michael’s blood pressure increased and he was not breathing. Dr.Murray began to give chest compressions. He did not call the 911 because he did not know the ZIP code of the house. He shouted Alvarez’s (Michael’s bodyguard) name. The man rushed into the room. Dr.Murray asked him to call 911. The man rushed out of the room. When the paramedics arrived, they asked Dr.Murray to sign the death note, but he refused because he was not sure about the cause of his death. Dr.Murray also talked about his past years in Michael’s service. He told that he really loved Michael and he believed that propofol couldn’t cause addiction, moreover he really cared about the singer’s career and he also respected him because he was a single- parent.

On October 11 Officer Smith returned to testifying (the man from the Los Angeles Police Department who began testifying before the recording of Dr.Murray interrogation was played). He noted that the bodyguards of Michael did not take back Murray to his house after the death occurred. This was important because no propofol bottles were found in his house. This meant that he did not remove them because he was not at home so he could not commit it. All the “lethal” medicine was in Michael’s apartment. Dr. Christopher Rogers, the head of the pathology at the coroner’s office testified that the cause of the death was propofol intoxication. The doctor told that the order in which and the amount of medicine what Conrad gave to Michael may lead to a heart failure. According to the gentleman what happened was that Dr.Conrad Murray accidentally gave too much propofol for Michael Jackson and this involuntary mistake lead to the unfortunate death of the singer.

 Dr. Christopher Rogers

On the 12th of October, Dr. Alon Steinberg, a cardiologist expert testified. He told that the police report was correct; Conrad Murray used propofol which should be only used in hospitals where strict monitoring is present. He also added that porpofol is a very serious drug which should not be used for curing insomnia.
On the 14th day of the trial the prosecution tried to convince the jury by showing a list of medical violations committed by Conrad Murray while working for Michael Jackson. He added that all these violations together lead to the death of an innocent man.

The verdict
Several mistakes of the defense lead to the verdict what lead to the imprisonment. A mistake was that a doctor they asked to testify noted that he would never give propofol to a patient outside a hospital. Conrad Murray refused to testify when his defense team called him.
On November 7 2011, after a 24-day long trial Dr.Conrad Murray was found guilty with the charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was taken into custody without bail. He was sentenced to a four year imprisonment but was released on October 28, 2013 due to Californian prison overcrowding and because of his good behavior. His medical licenses remained suspended in all three states where he previously practiced.

Personal opinion:
The trial of Dr. Conrad Murray was a very interesting topic to work on. I was able to expand my knowledge about both medical and legal issues. The trial itself was pretty straightforward. The defense was not able to convince the jury about the innocence of Mr.Murray and that lead to imprisonment for him. An innocent man, a real icon passed away in 2009, because of the irresponsibility of a doctor. While working on the trial I felt that Mr.Murray was not lying; I believe he really liked Michael Jackson and the unfortunate death occurred because of irresponsibility and I am more than sure that this mistake will haunt the doctor forever and that is already a huge punishment for him.

I hope I managed to present an enjoyable and complex picture about the trial of Conrad Murray. 

Nincsenek megjegyzések:

Megjegyzés küldése