NEW: Dr. Murray sheds tears as heart patient testifies
Murray "is the best doctor I've ever seen," a former heart patient says
Character witnesses testify for Dr. Murray's defense Wednesday
The defense will call two medical experts before resting Thursday or Friday
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Tears flowed from Dr. Conrad Murray’s eyes Wednesday as he listened to an elderly patient tell jurors that Murray had opened a clinic in the Acres Homes community of Houston in honor of his father, who had practiced there.
After 17 days of hearing about how pop star Michael Jackson died under Murray’s care, jurors began hearing Wednesday from people who say the doctor saved lives.
Ruby Mosley was one of five character witnesses called by Murray’s defense lawyers Wednesday morning as his involuntary manslaughter trial nears an end.
“If this man had been greedy, he never would have come to an area, a community of Acres Homes, 75% of them poor, on welfare and Social Security,” Mosley said.
Murray continued to dab tears from his eyes even after Mosley left the stand.
“He’s the best doctor I’ve ever been to,” said Gerry Causey, a 68-year-old former patient of the man accused of causing Jackson’s death.”And I just don’t think he did what he’s being accused of,” Causey added, under cross-examination by the prosecution.
Much of the prosecution’s case has been spent trying to demonstrate that Murray gave reckless and incompetent medical treatment as Jackson’s personal doctor in the last months of his life.
Causey met Murray 11 years ago when he was rushed to a Las Vegas hospital with a heart attack, but they became friends since then, he testified.
“It’s because of Dr. Murray, the way he cares for you, the way he makes you feel,” Causey said.
Prosecutors contend that Murray abandoned his patients in Las Vegas and Houston for the $150,000 a month Jackson had promised him.
“There’s no way, he’s not greedy,” Causey said. “He doesn’t charge me my deductable, never has.”
Las Vegas heart patient Andrew Guest, who followed Causey on the witness stand Wednesday, said Murray “makes sure you’re ok during the procedure.”
“That man sitting there is the best doctor I’ve ever seen,” Guest testified.
Murray treated Dennis Hix by putting 14 stints into arteries around his heart 11 years ago, Hix testified.
“I’m 66, I’ve gone to a lot of doctors, a lot of doctors and I’ve never had one that gave me the care that he did,” Hix said.
Murray never charged Hix beyond what his insurance would pay, he said. “I had a type of insurance that don’t hardly pay for nothing,” he said. “So he did it for me free.”
Two medical experts for the defense, including anesthesiologist Dr. Paul White, are expected to follow Thursday and possibly Friday. This would set the stage for closing arguments and jury deliberations early next week, although it’s possible that could come Friday.
Jackson’s sisters Janet and La Toya, as well as his brother Randy, were in court for Wednesday’s testimony.
The promoter of Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” tour testified Tuesday that Jackson’s fear that producers would “pull the plug” on the shows if the singer missed more rehearsals was unfounded.
“No one on our end was ever contemplating pulling the plug,” said Randy Phillips, the head of AEG Live.
Murray’s lawyers contend Jackson self-administered the overdose of drugs that killed him in a “desperate desire to get to sleep,” because he feared without rest he would miss his next rehearsal and trigger the cancellation of his comeback concerts.
If the tour was canceled, Jackson would have to pay for all of the production and rehearsal costs, Phillips said, although the judge would not let him tell jurors how much that might have been. Defense lawyer Ed Chernoff estimated the cost to be about $40 million, leaving him “a very, very poor man,” but it was not while the jury was present.
Concert director Kenny Ortega sent Phillips an e-mail five days before Jackson’s death, referring to Jackson’s fear the company would cancel the tour. The e-mail triggered a meeting with Jackson and Murray to address Ortega’s concerns about Jackson’s “lack of focus” and missed rehearsals, with the debut of his London shows just three weeks away.
He and Ortega were satisfied when Jackson told them “You build the house and I will put on the door and paint it,” suggesting he would be ready, Phillips testified.
Also at the meeting, Phillips told Murray that he wanted to make sure Murray knew about Jackson’s visits to another doctor, dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein. “Because he’s his principal physician, I thought he should know,” he said.
Phillips said he was concerned because Jackson “seemed a little distracted and not focused” in a meeting after a visit to Klein’s Beverly Hills clinic.
The defense contends Jackson became addicted to the painkiller Demerol in his frequent visits to Klein in the three months before his death. His withdrawal from the Demerol, which Murray was unaware of, would explain why Jackson could not sleep the day he died, the defense contends.
Earlier Tuesday, a nurse who tried to treat Jackson’s insomnia with natural remedies testified that Jackson told her that doctors assured him using the surgical anesthetic propofol at home to induce sleep was safe as long as he was monitored.
Jackson died two months after that conversation with nurse Cherilyn Lee, from what the coroner ruled was an overdose of propofol, combined with sedatives.
Prosecutors contend Murray’s use of propofol to treat Jackson’s insomnia in his home was reckless, in part because he did not have proper equipment to monitor his patient and he abandoned him to make phone calls.
Lee’s testimony was briefly delayed as she was overcome with emotion. “I’m feeling really, really dizzy,” Lee said. “This is just very sensitive to me.”
Lee used IV drips loaded with vitamins, “sophisticated” vitamin smoothies and bedtime teas to treat Jackson’s insomnia, but Jackson became frustrated when her natural remedies failed to make him sleep, she said.
“He said ‘I’m telling you the only thing that’s going to help me sleep right away is the Diprivan and can you find someone to help me to sleep?’” Lee said. Diprivan is a brand name for propofol.
After some quick research, the nurse warned Jackson that it was dangerous to use propofol at home, Lee testified.
Jackson was not deterred, she said, even after she asked him “but what if you don’t wake up?”
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked her, “And he responded, ‘I will be OK, I only need someone to monitor me with the equipment while I sleep’?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what he said,” Lee said.
Murray had already agreed to serve as Jackson’s private physician and had ordered his first supplies of propofol for Jackson more than a week before Jackson asked Lee for help getting the drug.