Friday, September 30, 2011

Conrad Murray Trial: Day 4

Yesterday, the last witness was #6, Kai Chase, Michael Jackson's personal chef. She testified much the same as she did in the preliminary hearing.

Robert Johnson, Nonin Medical, Director of Regulatory Affairs

Today #7, Robert William Johnson, Nonin Medical employee, Director of regulatory affairs, clinical research and quality assurance. Johnson's responsibilities at the company are to get product approvals with FDA and world wide health ministries. Nonin medical makes physiological monitoring devices. Mr. Johnson testified about the pulse-oximeter (made by his company) that Dr. Murray was using on Michael Jackson, as well as other advanced models of equipment they sell. (I listened to a portion of Mr. Johnson's testimony on TV this morning.)

Prosecution is showing the witness a pulse oximeter sensor and circuitry all in one that can be worn on the finger, Model #9500. The witness states it does not have an audible alarm.

Johnson testifies that this model is designed for spot checking vital signs. It's not designed for continuous monitoring. The product manual/description included with the product is specifically labeled against that. Labeled against continuous monitoring in the warnings. Does come with instructions for use.

From warnings in directions of device:
This device has no audible alarms and is designed for spot checking. "Taking an instantaneous reading." Warning quote in package materials. The retail cost: $275.00.

Mr. Johnson also testified about another model of pulse oximeter, the Nonin 2500A.

Prosecution: What type of pulse oximeter is that?

RJ: It is a pulse-oximeter that displays the same functions but also has visual and audible alarms.

Prosecution: Is that an alarm that is designed to be heard in another room?

RJ: Yes.

Prosecution: It can be heard outside of a bedroom?

RJ: It is loud. And annoying.

Prosecution: In 2009 how much did that product cost?

RJ: It would be about $750.00 retail.

Robert Russell, former patient of Dr. Murray

Witness #8, Robert Russell, was a former patient of Dr. Murray . Dr. Murray told him he was leaving his Las Vegas practice to be Michael Jackson's full time physician. Russell's last two appointments with Dr. Murray were rescheduled then the last appointment, on June 22nd, cancelled. (I heard a recap of this testimony on the radio while driving.)

Next up was #9, Richard Senneff, Los Angeles Fire Department Paramedic, first on the scene. Testimony basically the same as during the preliminary hearing. Senneff testified that Jackson's skin was cool to the touch and his pupils fixed and dilated. During the paramedics treatment of Jackson at the scene, Senneff testified he was never able to feel a pulse or see a heart beat on the monitors. Dr. Murray did not not tell him that he had administered propofol to Jackson.

Following Senneff was #10, Martin Blount, fifth paramedic to enter the residence and care for Michael Jackson. Testimony basically the same as during the preliminary hearing. Blount never heard Dr. Murray mention the drug propofol.

Last witness of the day on Friday was #11, Dr. Richelle Cooper, UCLA ER physician who paramedics consulted with over the radio. Pronounced Jackson dead over the radio, and a second time when he was wheeled into the ER. Dr. Cooper was still on the stand at the close of the court day.

What are your thoughts on the prosecution's case so far?

Some more images.

DDA Deborah Brazil, co-prosecutor on the Murray case.

Nareg Gourjian, one of three defense attorneys representing Dr. Murray.


Anonymous said...

On Jane Velez-Mitchell's Thirsday night HLN show, she had as a guest Hamid Towfigh, a former LA Deputy DA. Towfigh believed the charge should have been second degree murder instead of involuntary manslaughter. He said: "Second degree, implied malice murder, it is a life sentence. That is the appropriate charge. It is actually easier in my opinion to prove."

Towfigh also said that it was unusual for two deputies from the Major Crimes unit to be trying an involuntary manslaughter case. Deputies from this unit usually try "heavy murder" cases, he said.

However, this is a high profile trial Los Angeles trial and the Major Crimes unit usually handles these.

For what it is worth, and I am only a trial junkie, I think involuntary manslaughter was the right charge. Phil Spector's shooting of Lana Clarkson was an example of second degree murder.

David In TN

Sprocket said...

Hi David,

Back before the trial started, right around the time of the preliminary hearing, Tom Mesereau (sp?) was on one of the morning news shows. He talked to people he knew in the DA's office.

He said there were many lengthy discussions inside the DA's office about whether or not they should go with second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. Many, many discussions. And, the DA's office did take their time before he was finally charged.

I don't necessarily agree with Towfigh that this case doesn't qualify for the major crimes unit...because of who the victim was. Major Crimes also handles "high profile" cases, and those cases would be handled by a long-cause judge at the Criminal Justice Center.

I also don't agree that murder 2 would have been an easier charge to prove.

You have to look historically at what doctors have been "successfully" criminally prosecuted over the years. Kim of Darwin Exception did a search of Lexus Nexus and said there have only been 30 cases where physicians have been criminally charged between 1981 and 2008. That's a tiny bit over 1 doctor per I'd call that rare.

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed by the professional conduct of the prosecutors in this case. They are very "formal" in their observance of court etiquette and procedure and not at all flamboyant in tneir presentation of evidence. On the other hand, I am very disappointed in the conduct of Mr. Chernoff, the lead defense counsel. The word "snarky" is unavoidable in describing his attitude and presentation as illustrated by his habit of looking over his glasses - for effect - and the tone he adopts when a witness gives an answer he prefers not to have. The other two defense counsels do not seem to use these devices as they go about their cross examinations and that would seem to serve their client better.


Sprocket said...


Understand that it is an adversarial relationship between the defense attorney and the prosecution witnesses. There best line of defense is to challenge these witnesses who might have a personal agenda to convict Murray for the death of their employer.

Notice that there was very little cross examination of the paramedics. There's not much to challenge there.

Anonymous said...

What do I think of the case so far? I like the Judge for this case. When the cell phone went off he reacted quickly and with authority to keep his courtroom under control. I still haven't gotten over the way P. Spector's wife spoke to the Judge during his first trial or the Myspace posting (assuming it was her posting, which I don't ever think was proven or unproven to my general knowledge)receiving less of a type of response by the court than one would receive for smart talking to or online about a teacher IMO. OK, got that off my chest.

My thoughts on this of this moment it is not looking to good for Dr. Murray. I am trying to remain open minded and listen to the facts presented in the trial. I can't help but wonder, if he would take the stand, if the reason for his actions could come down to some form of loyalty to MJ, keep things hush to maintain MJ's privacy by any means necessary. Just a guess, but at this moment as I said I don't think it is looking to good for Murray.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts on the trial thus far? The prosecution's case sounds very much like it's pre-trial presentation. One thing the defense did that was interesting but obvious perhaps not unexpected maybe I'm reading too much into it. In questioning Alvarez it seemed the defense was trying to build evidence that Dr Murray did want Alvarez to call an ambulance and that the time delay on Alvarez part may not have helped MJ (you'd have to assume he was still alive).

I think the defense is going to continue to try to discredit Alvarez (and other staffers) in ways that they think will help Dr Murray but at the moment I jet don't know how they can create enough doubt to win the case or get a sentence reduction. Stay tuned is all I can say -,we're only a week into it.

GeeMama said...

Yep, I'm a trial junkie too and of all the major trials I have watched and wanted to be a jury member on, I cannot say the same for this one. On one hand, MJ was a junkie and BOUGHT a doc to meet his demands. On the other, it's looking bad that Murray on the phone, getting drug sent to girlfriend, etc. to meet his client's needs. It is much like ANSmith. So sad. Murray's last girlfriend on stand sure wants to get noticed by Hollywood.