Doctor's defense faces tough task in Jackson trial

Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:52pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The defense in the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor takes center stage next week with a major question still to be answered: will Dr. Conrad Murray take the witness stand?

After three weeks of often damaging evidence against the doctor accused of involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death, legal experts say Murray's version of events is riddled with inconsistencies.

And lead prosecutor David Walgren on Friday complained to the trial judge that his team was "dealing with an ever-changing defense."

Testifying comes with risks if Murray is unclear in telling jurors why he failed to have proper equipment on hand when Jackson died, and why he failed to disclose his use of the drug that ultimately caused Jackson's death.

"If I was defending, I would not put Murray on the witness stand. I think he would just get hammered," Beverly Hills defense attorney Mark McBride told Reuters.

Jackson died at age 50 of an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and a cocktail of sedatives on June 25, 2009.

Prosecutors must convince the jury that Murray was so negligent in his care of the "Thriller" singer that it led to his death, just as he prepared for a series of London concerts. The doctor faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Murray has admitted giving Jackson a small dose of propofol after the singer begged him for the anesthetic during a long, sleepless night. His defense says Jackson subsequently injected himself with an extra, fatal dose without Murray's knowledge.   Continued...