Michael Jackson's Physician Faces Court Hearing
MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports.
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: The voice over the phone on the 911 tapes was urgent but courteous, as the caller reported a medical emergency in a toney Los Angeles neighborhood.
LOUISE KELLY: Sir, we have a gentleman here that needs help and he's not breathing.
GRIGSBY BATES: 911 Dispatcher: Did anybody witness what happened.
LOUISE KELLY: 911 Dispatcher: Okay, so the doctor see what happened?
LOUISE KELLY: Doctor, did you see what happened, sir?
D: Yeah. They need to come.
GRIGSBY BATES: Those allegations could prove explosive, says Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
LOUISE KELLY: If that's true, that is very significant evidence for the prosecution. Because in order to prove this case, that they have to prove that Dr. Murray acted negligently, that he should have known better. Well, if it turns out that he did know better, that here he's trying to hide the evidence in this case, that will really help the prosecutors at trial.
GRIGSBY BATES: Celebrity defense attorney Mark Geragos disagrees. He handled part of Michael Jackson's child molestation trial in 2005, and says dropped tidbits like the one from Alvarez are strategic.
LOUISE KELLY: Well, I don't want to enflame my friends over at the LAPD, but they do have a long history of leaking information.
GRIGSBY BATES: Geragos says police and prosecutors have had a clear advantage and Murray's lawyers have their work cut out for them.
LOUISE KELLY: There was extensive investigation going into this case, before it was filed, and so the defense is having to play catch-up.
GRIGSBY BATES: Even so, Laurie Levenson says Murray's prosecutors probably aren't counting on only one thing to win their case.
LOUISE KELLY: They're going to take a collection of evidence and say, look at the big picture here. He shouldn't have been giving this medication, he tried to clean it up when he was done, no reasonable doctor would have done this. Michael Jackson dies, you know what that adds up to.
GRIGSBY BATES: For the most part, Murray has kept a low-profile, but he was seen at Forest Lawn Memorial Park shortly after Jackson was entombed there, and just before Murray was arraigned for Jackson's death.
LOUISE KELLY: It was a photo setup. There were professional paparazzi with him.
GRIGSBY BATES: Lisa Burks writes a blog on cemeteries, called "Adventures in Grave Hunting." Like many Jackson fans, she was furious.
LOUISE KELLY: It hurt and outraged many people who loved Michael. It was just a slap in the face.
GRIGSBY BATES: Adding to their anger, the ruling by Superior Court Judge, Keith Schwartz, allowing Murray to still practice medicine while his case is pending. But defense attorney Geragos points out, Murray didn't get a free pass.
LOUISE KELLY: In this case, Judge Schwartz limited that order by saying that he could still practice but not anywhere related to anesthesia or the giving of drugs, and specifically named propofal.
GRIGSBY BATES: Geragos and Laurie Levenson agree on one thing - Conrad Murray's trial will likely last for months, maybe a year. And Levenson believes the doctor has been irreparably damaged.
LOUISE KELLY: Frankly, his medical career is over. He may very well end up going to prison and it will certainly mark him as someone who killed Michael Jackson.
GRIGSBY BATES: Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.
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