Katherine Jackson disputes reports Prince might testify
The Jacksons are upset about Dr. Murray's claim he comforted the kids in the ER
A new California law means if Murray is convicted he might never see a state prison cell
A four-year sentence could become just two because of prison overcrowding
With testimony on hold while Dr. Conrad Murray’s lawyers study a new lab test that prosecutors plan to use against him, speculation about Michael Jackson’s oldest son possibly testifying has increased.
But Katherine Jackson, the matriarch of the Jackson family, reconfirmed to CNN Tuesday that she is opposed to Prince Jackson being called as a witness and that there are no discussions going on with prosecutors about it.
Testimony resumes Wednesday, after a five-day break, with the anesthesiology expert who is likely the last witness before the prosecution rests its direct case. The judge indicated it Dr. Steven Shafer’s testimony is completed Wednesday, he would recess court on Thursday to allow the defense to prepare before presenting its case on Friday.
The relevance of 14-year-old Prince Jackson’s testimony in the involuntary manslaughter trial of his father’s doctor increased last week after jurors heard Murray’s police interview.
Prince disputed Murray’s claim, given in his police interview, that the doctor comforted him and his siblings in the emergency room after they learned their father was dead, according to a Jackson family member who was with the children that day.
Prince Jackson told his family that Murray’s account was not true, Trent Jackson, the nephew of Katherine and Joe Jackson, said Thursday.
Jackson family members were upset that jurors may sympathize with Murray because of perceived compassion for the children that day, Jackson told CNN.
“I hugged them all, gave comfort to Paris, comfort to Prince, comfort to Blanket, which is the last little guy, because whenever they were sick, they would always ask for Dr. Conrad,” Murray told detectives two days after Jackson’s death in 2009.
Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson were initially kept in an SUV outside of the emergency room after they followed the ambulance carrying their father to the hospital, Trent Jackson said. Frank Dileo, who was Michael Jackson’s manager, later escorted them inside after their grandmother arrived, according to Trent Jackson.
Murray never spoke to Michael Jackson’s mother at the emergency room, contrary to his statement to police, Trent Jackson said.
While the truthfulness of Murray’s interview is a major issue in the trial, it is not expected that Prince will be called to testify, the relative said. Katherine Jackson, who has custody of the children, is opposed to any of them being called as witnesses, he said.
Prosecutors said they will conclude their direct presentation Thursday, but rebuttal witnesses could be called next week after the defense rests its case. The defense starts on Friday.
Murray faces a maximum sentence of four years if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, but a new California law could mean the doctor would never see the inside of a state prison cell.
The law, intended to reduce state prison overcrowding, provides for most nonviolent offenders with no prior record to be kept in county jails.
A four-year sentence could become two years if Murray is ordered to serve his time in the Los Angeles County jail, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida.
In addition, the Los Angeles jail is under court order to reduce overcrowding, which means many nonviolent first-time offenders are allowed to serve the bulk of their time under supervised house arrest.
But there are “so many different possibilities” it is not possible to predict how much time, or where, Murray would serve his sentence if convicted, Nishida said.
The spokeswoman with the Los Angeles district attorney’s office said she could not comment because of the gag order imposed by the judge in the Murray trial.
A conviction, however, would probably trigger the revocation of Murray’s medical licenses in California, Texas and Nevada.
The trial has been put on hold at least until Wednesday to give the defense time to study new lab test results the prosecution contends show Jackson did not ingest a fatal overdose of sedatives.
Testimony was suspended last Thursday afternoon to allow the prosecution’s anesthesiology expert to attend a medical convention, and again Monday because that witness’s father died.
The trial, in its fourth week, is expected to conclude with the start of jury deliberations near the end of next week.
The Los Angeles County coroner tested Jackson’s stomach contents – preserved from the autopsy – for the level of the sedative lorazepam last Wednesday at the request of the prosecution, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren revealed at a hearing Monday.
The testing was ordered after Murray’s defense contended that Jackson swallowed eight tablets of lorazepam, a sedative, in a desperate search for sleep the day he died.
The results show “a much smaller amount of lorazepam in the stomach that is totally inconsistent with oral consumption of lorazepam tablets,” Walgren said.
The coroner ruled that Jackson’s June 25, 2009, death was from “acute propofol intoxication” in combination with several sedatives, including lorazepam.
The defense complained that the coroner should have done the test two years ago, not during the trial.
“It’s about the time,” defense lawyer Ed Chernoff said. “It’s about the fairness issue.”
Dr. Steven Shafer, an anesthesiology expert, is crucial to the state’s effort to prove Jackson’s death was caused by Murray’s gross negligence in using the surgical anesthetic propofol to help the pop icon sleep.
Shafer began testifying Thursday morning before the judge recessed for the weekend so he could travel to a medical convention. He never made it there because of the death in his family, Walgren said Friday.
Shafer, who is expected to give a detailed scientific explanation of how propofol is metabolized in the human body, will be on the witness stand for at least a day, according to Walgren.
Shafer’s testimony is expected to echo the opinions of a sleep expert and a cardiologist who testified that Murray’s treatment of Jackson was so grossly negligent that it was criminal.