Lawyers for Michael Jackson’s doctor told a judge today they may need a delay in his upcoming trial because prosecutors have disclosed new witnesses with surprising scientific theories the defence did not anticipate.
Attorneys Edward Chernoff and J Michael Flanagan argued that the new evidence against Dr Conrad Murray should be barred from the trial because it arrived too late.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said that would be absurd and called the situation the defence team’s own fault for refusing to delay the trial when he and the judge suggested it.
Among the new expert opinions proposed by prosecutors is that Jackson could not have caused his own death by swallowing the powerful aesthetic propofol because it is not absorbed through the intestines.
At a preliminary hearing earlier this year, the defence posed the idea that Jackson, desperate for sleep, swallowed the drug while his doctor was out of the room. Propofol is normally administered intravenously for surgery.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said he would not exclude the expert testimony and declared he prosecution was not trying to “sandbag” the defence by disclosing the witness so close to the possible end of jury selection next week.
“This case involves sophisticated scientific issues,” Pastor said, adding it was likely that new theories would arise during discovery of evidence.
“I’m not surprised by the situation,” the judge said. “I anticipated these problems when I was advised that this case was going to proceed within 60 days after the preliminary hearing.”
Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop superstar, has insisted on moving forward quickly.
Walgren said the prosecution, which originally listed 11 anticipated expert witnesses, has cut that down to four, most of them new.
“When the first experts got into this, it was not anticipated the defence would go with the theory that Michael killed himself,” the prosecutor said. “This is a situation they created ... It was always our theory that Dr Murray was incompetent, untruthful and caused the death of Michael Jackson.”
With the new defence theory in play, prosecutors had to seek new scientific experts, he said.
Flanagan said he and Chernoff now need additional experts to respond to the newly added prosecution witnesses.
Chernoff was scheduled to report back to the judge later today. He said he would consult with Murray to determine whether to request a delay.
Jury selection, which began with a panel filling out written questionnaires, is set to continue on May 4, with opening statements the following week.