LOS ANGELES (AP) — A coroner’s official said Tuesday that Michael Jackson was mostly healthy, but the doctor charged in his death provided substandard care.
Dr. Christopher Rogers testified that Dr. Conrad Murray was improperly using the powerful anesthetic propofol to treat the musician for insomnia, and that Murray was wrong to leave Jackson’s side while he was under anesthesia before he died.
“The care was substandard,” Rogers said. “There were several actions that should have been taken, but we don’t have any actions they were taken in this case.”
Rogers also said he did not believe the singer injected himself with propofol, which Murray’s defense attorneys have suggested could have occurred.
However, the forensic pathologist said Jackson may have swallowed some of the drug based on the amount found in his stomach.
Rogers testified at a preliminary hearing after which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for Murray to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors contend Murray demonstrated “an extreme deviation from the standard of care” by administering propofol without the proper equipment and botching efforts to resuscitate the singer.
Murray has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys have said he didn’t give Jackson anything that should have killed him.
On Tuesday, a detective said Murray spent nearly three hours telling police about his final hours with the superstar who was so desperate for sleep that he was getting the anesthetic injections in his bedroom six nights a week.
Murray’s interview two days after Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, led police back to the singer’s mansion, where they found 12 vials of propofol — a fraction of the 255 vials a Las Vegas pharmacist said he shipped to Murray in the three months before Jackson died of a lethal combination of propofol and other sedatives.
Detective Orlando Martinez was the 20th witness called by prosecutors during the hearing. Murray told Martinez he did everything he could the morning of June 25 to get the pop superstar to sleep.
He gave the singer sedatives then turned down the music in his bedroom and told Jackson to meditate. He even rubbed the singer’s feet and put lotion on his back. But Jackson was still awake.
Murray told police the singer was growing frustrated and repeatedly warned he might have to cancel the planned 50 comeback concerts in London because he couldn’t sleep. He wanted his “milk,” which the detective was the word Jackson used for propofol.
At 10:40 a.m., Murray told Martinez, he gave Jackson a 25 milligram dose of propofol — half the usual dose.
Murray said he watched the singer for a few minutes then made a long walk to a bathroom. When he returned, Jackson wasn’t breathing. Murray told the detective.
The stunned doctor immediately tried to save Jackson, but told Martinez he didn’t call 911. “He said he was caring for his patient and he did not want to neglect him,” Martinez testified.
A call to 911 was finally made at 12:21 p.m. Prosecutors have said Jackson was dead before help was summoned.
Murray could face up to four years in prison if tried and convicted.
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this story.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.