LOS ANGELES -- Defense attorneys for the doctor accused of killing Michael Jackson began their case yesterday, targeting Jackson as the architect of his own demise by seeking to cure his insomnia with an intravenous drug, even when he was warned it was dangerous.
With the testimony of a doctor and a nurse practitioner, the lawyers showed that Jackson had been on his quest for at least 15 years, and in the months before he died he began asking for intravenous medication, specifically an anesthetic.
Jackson would eventually get the drug propofol from Dr. Conrad Murray, now on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the death of the superstar.
Taking over in the packed courtroom after prosecutors rested their four-week case, defense lawyers showed their hand at last, calling witnesses who indicated it was Jackson who demanded the drug that eventually killed him.
Dr. Allan Metzger, who was Jackson's friend and confidant over two decades, said he refused the singer's request for an intravenous anesthetic two months before his death and told the star it would be dangerous if administered in his home. Metzer appeared as a hostile witness.
Prosecutors were quick to exploit the testimony to show that other medical professionals rejected any suggestion by the singer that he receive anesthetics as a sleep aid.
"You explained to him that it was dangerous, life-threatening and should not be done outside a hospital, correct?" prosecutor David Walgren asked on cross-examination.
"That's correct," Metzger replied.
Metzger added that there was no amount of money that would have prompted him to give Jackson the anesthetic propofol.
The next witness, holistic nurse practitioner Cherilyn Lee, said she treated Jackson with vitamin infusions and he felt so much better that he invited her to go with him to London for his concert tour.
She said she thought his problem was that he had been drinking highly caffeinated beverages for energy. Once he withdrew from them, she was confident his problem would abate. But it did not.
She said she urged him to undergo a sleep study but he said he didn't have time.
In mid-April 2009, shortly before he began treatment with Murray, Jackson asked Lee to watch him sleep, which she did. She said he slept for five hours but was upset when he awoke.
"He said, 'You see, I can't stay asleep, " she said.