Expert: Conrad Murray trial not a slam-dunk

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by CBS News

khou.com

Posted on October 20, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 20 at 11:01 AM

(CBS News) -- Prosecutors in the Conrad Murray involuntary manslaughter trial called their final witness Wednesday—a doctor who literally wrote the book—wrote the guidelines on the proper use of Propofol, the anesthetic that killed Michael Jackson.

The witness, Dr. Steven Shafer, said Murray deviated in at least 17 ways from the proper standard of care when administering Propofol, and Shafer directly placed the blame for Jackson’s death on Murray.

Shafter said in court, “Virtually none of the safety guards for sedation were in place when Propofol was administered to Michael Jackson.

Murray told investigators Jackson begged him for the Propofol that eventually killed him, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reported. Shafer said no competent doctor ever would have given in to such pleadings.

Shafer said, “What I saw was a patient who stated what he wanted, ‘I want this, this and this.’ And I saw Conrad Murray say, ‘Yes, tell me what you want and I’ll do it.”’

Still, even with this testimony, the case is not a slam-dunk, CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford said on “The Early Show.”

“The first thing you learn if you’ve tried cases for a living is there’s no such thing as a slam-dunk case,” he said. “You have no idea what’s going on in a juror’s mind. You can handicap it and say the prosecution has a great amount of evidence—and they do here. ... (But) the defense doesn’t have to prove anything. All they have to do is raise questions in the minds of the jurors, and that could be enough.”

Ford went back to the Casey Anthony case in Florida. Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. She was found guilty of four lesser charges of providing false information to a law enforcement officer in the death of her young daughter, Caylee.

Ford said, “I had said for two years that that was going to be a hard case for the prosecution to win because, if the jurors follow just the evidence -- ... in that case, remember, they couldn’t prove a cause of death or a manner of death. Jurors work very hard in overwhelming number of instances to do legally what they are supposed to do.”

Thursday, the defense was to cross-examine Shafer, who’s an anesthesiologist, then call their first witness in Murray’s defense on Friday.

Will Murray eventually testify on his own behalf when the defense gets its turn to call witnesses?

Ford says Murray may take the stand, because he needs to tell his story of the day Jackson died “in some way, shape or form.”

“Ordinarily, defendants don’t take the stand,” he said. “... The reason is a lot of times, they are guilty. Other times, defense attorneys might say, ‘I don’t want to shift the focus in the courtroom. You know, the prosecution has the burden. If I put on my defendant, even though technically it doesn’t shift the burden,’ people say, ‘Did he convince me or not?’ ... The defense might say, ‘We got everything we could have gotten from him through the audio tapes that the prosecution has already put on.’ If I’m the defense attorney, I might think about saying to the jurors, ‘We didn’t put him on the stand. You heard everything he had to stay (on the police audio tapes). He volunteered to talk to the police and a guilty man wouldn’t volunteer.’ So I think that may be the argument you see. So I don’t know if you’ll see him, but you’ll certainly see the defense relying on his words there.”

 

 

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