Attorneys for Jackson doctor hint at a defense

Fri Jan 7, 2011 9:34pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An attorney for Michael Jackson's doctor on Friday hinted that the pop star may have killed himself with the drug propofol, even as prosecutors tried to bolster their claim the singer's physician committed manslaughter.

On the fourth day of a hearing to decide if Dr. Conrad Murray will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the singer's sudden death, prosecutors called a woman with whom Murray had an affair to testify about receiving packages from a pharmacy that court records show supplied him with propofol.

Coroner's investigator Elissa Fleak also testified to finding at Jackson's home 12 bottles of the powerful anesthetic -- typically used in hospitals but which Jackson used as a sleep aid -- including several in a bag marked "baby essentials."

Fleak said she found most it four days after Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of a drug overdose, and that near his bed were an open box of hypodermic needles and one empty bottle of propofol.

Defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan seized on her testimony to ask if a man Jackson's size, from his bed, could reach the needles.

"If a person about 136 pounds and 5'9" was on the bed, they should be able to reach them, right?" Flanagan asked.

Prosecutors quickly objected and a judge agreed the question was speculation. Still, it pointed to a claim made one week ago in court by prosecutors who warned the defense would offer up a theory Jackson killed himself.

At the time, Flanagan declined to disclose what the defense's strategy may be, and outside the courtroom on Friday, he told Reuters the defense strategy was still developing.   Continued...