Medical records showed that Michael Jackson developed an addiction to a powerful pain medicine in the months before his death, an expert testifying for the doctor charged in the singer’s death told jurors on Thursday.
Dr. Robert Waldman said Jackson was receiving “above-average doses” of the painkiller Demerol.
“I believe there is evidence that he was dependent on Demerol, possibly,” Waldman said, adding he thinks Jackson had an addiction to opioids by May 2009, the month before his death.
Jackson’s personal doctor, Dr Conrad Murray, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. His lawyers argue that Jackson gave himself a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol, which they say he was taking as a sleep aid.
Waldman said a symptom of Demerol withdrawal is insomnia. Jackson complained that he couldn’t sleep as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts.
Murray’s lawyers have suggested Jackson was undergoing withdrawal from Demerol before his death. None of the drug was found in the singer’s system when he died.
But authorities found propofol throughout Jackson’s body during an autopsy.
Jackson received Demerol shots from his longtime dermatologist, Dr Arnold Klein, who has not been accused of wrongdoing and will not be called as a witness.
Murray’s attorneys have yet to show evidence of how their theory that Jackson gave himself a fatal dose would have been possible. A key expert said he ruled it out completely, saying the more likely scenario was that Murray gave Jackson a much higher dose than he has acknowledged.
Prosecutors have portrayed Murray as a reckless physician who repeatedly broke the rules by giving Jackson propofol as a sleep aid. But jurors heard a different description of the doctor on Wednesday.
Several of the character witnesses called described Murray as the best doctor they had ever seen and highlighted his skills at repairing their hearts with stents and other procedures.
“I’m alive today because of that man,” said Andrew Guest. “That man sitting there is the best doctor I’ve ever seen.”
A prosecutor noted none of them were treated for sleep issues.
Defence attorneys have told Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor they expect their case to conclude Thursday. Pastor has said if that happens, closing arguments would occur next week. — Sapa-AP