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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Patients of Michael Jackson's doctor described the physician on Wednesday as generous and kind as the defense sought to show a different side of the man charged in the singer's 2009 death.
Dr. Conrad Murray has admitted giving Jackson the anesthetic propofol -- the drug deemed the chief cause of his death -- as a sleep aid but he denies involuntary manslaughter or gross negligence.
Murray's treatment of heart patients at his practices in Las Vegas and Houston was the focus of testimony at his trial in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
"I believe that Dr. Murray is not getting a fair shake," said Andrew Guest, 48, of Las Vegas, who was treated by Murray for a heart condition. "I believe he needs support and I appreciate his kindness, his caring and I'm alive today because of that man."
Another four patients said Murray was a thorough and caring physician. They also described him as generous and said he would occasionally treat patients for free.
Gerry Causey said Murray not only operated on him in Las Vegas but became his best friend afterward.
The hearing got emotional at times. When Causey was leaving the courtroom he shook hands with Murray and moved to embrace him but was cut short by an admonition from the judge.
Ruby Mosley, a resident Acres Homes, a community of mostly poor elderly people in Houston, said Murray opened a cardiology practice there after the death of his father, who also was a doctor.
"If this man had been greedy, he never would have come to an area, a community like Acres Homes, 75 percent of (residents) poor, on welfare and Social Security where he was making less than where he was in Vegas," Mosley said.
Murray wiped his eyes with a tissue during Mosley's testimony.
Under cross examination from a prosecutor, the patients said Murray did not treat them for sleep problems.
Also on Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor advised Murray that he has a right to testify, even though his attorneys have said they do not plan to call him to the stand.
Murray, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
Jackson, 50, died in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009.
After almost four weeks of prosecution testimony, the defense is expected to wrap up its own, much shorter, case this week.
Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bill Trott