LOS ANGELES--Michael Jackson’s doctor, a model of composure throughout his four-week trial, was moved to tears when five patients marched into court Wednesday to offer testimonials about his medical skills.
Dr. Conrad Murray maintained his typically calm demeanor until Ruby Mosley, a tiny gray-haired woman with a cane, struggled to the witness stand to defend him.
She spoke of knowing his father, also a doctor, in the poor community of Acres Home outside Houston and said she met Conrad Murray when he opened a clinic dedicated to his father’s memory.
“If this man was greedy he never would have come to the community of Acres Home,” she said, testifying that most residents are senior citizens on fixed incomes.
Murray’s eyes brimmed with tears and he wiped them with a tissue for several moments after Mosley left the witness stand. She was the last of five character witnesses that Murray’s attorneys called during the doctor’s involuntary manslaughter trial. He has pleaded not guilty.
Authorities contend Murray gave Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol in the singer’s bedroom on June 25, 2009, while treating him for a sleep disorder. Defense attorneys claim the singer gave himself the deadly dose.
Four other witnesses, all heart patients at Murray’s cardiology offices in Houston and Las Vegas, expounded on his talents, saying he was a caring thorough doctor who tended to their hearts and later became a friend.
“He is my best friend,” said Gerry Causey, a former patient who drove from his current home in Cedar City, Utah, to testify.
“The reason I came here to help Dr. Murray is I know his love, his compassion, his feeling for his patients, every one of them and I just don’t think he did what he’s accused of doing.”
Another witness, Andrew Guest of Las Vegas, looked at Murray across the courtroom and declared, “I’m alive today because of that man. That man sitting there is the best doctor I’ve ever seen.”
Guest said Murray explained every aspect of his treatment and even called him at home on a weekend to see how he was doing.
On cross-examination, prosecutor David Walgren asked, “Would you agree that the level of care Dr. Murray gave you with a team to back him up—every patient deserves that level of care?”
“Yes sir, I do,” Guest said.
Walgren asked all the witnesses if they had ever been treated by
Murray for a sleep disorder. They had not.
Walgren, suggesting the witnesses were biased, asked if anything could change their minds about Murray. They answered no. They also told of being notified by Murray in the spring of 2009 that he was taking a sabbatical and going to London. They said he never mentioned Jackson.
“I was a little bit in despair because I didn’t know who was going to take care of me,” said patient Lunette Sampson, who recently moved to San Diego from Las Vegas. Still, she said Murray gave her all of his phone numbers and said he would refer her to another doctor.
Under California law, character witnesses can be offered in an effort to create reasonable doubt of guilt.
Before the trial recessed for the day, Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor told Murray he soon plans to ask the defendant to state whether he wants to testify in his own defense.
The judge emphasized that the right to testify was his alone.
“It does not belong to your attorneys, to the prosecution or to
me,” Pastor said. “If you want to testify, you will testify even if someone may be counseling you not to testify. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Murray said softly.
He warned Murray that testifying would subject him to
cross-examination and said, “I also want to advise you that you have an absolute constitutional right not to testify, the right to remain silent.”
Murray’s final witnesses, a pair of medical experts, were due on the witness stand Thursday.