Conrad Murray Defense Attacks Witness' Theory on Michael Jackson's Death

VIDEO: Defense in Michael Jackson murder trial starts cross-examinations.
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Dr. Conrad Murray's defense today attacked a key prosecution witness' scenario on how Murray could have been responsible for the death of singer Michael Jackson.

But in a sidebar session, it was a prospective witness for Murray's defense under attack, being excoriated by Judge Michael Pastor for apparently denouncing either a prosecution witness or a prosecutor as a "scumbag" within earshot of reporters, possibly in contempt of court.

Murray is on trial in Los Angeles Superior Court for involuntary manslaughter involving Jackson's death.

The prosecution witness, Dr. Steven Shafer, an anesthesiologist affiliated with Columbia University, has testified in recent days that Murray most likely hooked up Jackson to an IV drip containing the anesthetic propofol and then left the singer unattended.

Shafer added today that even if Jackson were able to start the IV drip on his own, Murray still would be responsible for the death.

"If Michael Jackson had reached up, seeing the roller clamp, and opened [it] himself, this is a foreseeable consequence of setting up a dangerous way of giving drug [and] is in no way exculpatory for the fact that Dr. Murray was not present and permitted this to happen," Shafer said.

But then the defense took its shots, questioning whether Shafer was using medical knowledge or actually doing investigative work beyond his expertise when he came up with his theory on Jackson's death.

"Everything you said in the last two days was your opinion," defense attorney Ed Chernoff told Shafer at one point. "You do understand that, right? Do you understand that?"

Answered Shafer, "I stated my name, which I think is a matter of fact."

Shafer's theory relied on Murray using a vented IV -- which would let air into the propofol bottle, allowing it to drip.

However, Chernoff noted, there was no such vented IV line found in the bedroom where Jackson was discovered unconscious.

Shafer maintained that Seacoast Medical records showed Murray had ordered vented IV's in the past, and that the IV tubing was small enough that it could have been easily removed from the room.

Later, Chernoff pressed Shafer for the corroborating evidence he used to come up with his theory that Murray put a propofol bottle in a cut-open saline bag to set up a propofol drip -- a set-up that Shafer admitted he had never seen before.

Chernoff got Shafer to concede that he relied on an earlier witness, Alberto Alvarez, who said he had seen such a set-up before stashing it in a blue bag.

The defense has attacked Alvarez's credibility on the claim he handled the IV bag because there were no fingerprints.

After Murray's defense concludes its cross-examination of Shafer next week, the prosecution is expected to rest its case and let the defense present its case.

But a prospective defense witness already faced heat today over his alleged statements, published by E! online, in possible violation of a gag order.

As Shafer demonstrated Thursday how Murray could have administered propofol to Jackson, E! reported, Murray could be heard whispering loudly to the possible witness, Dr. Paul White, "Can you believe that?" At which point, according to E!, White turned to journalists and said, "What a scumbag."

It was unclear whether White was referring to Shafer or prosecutor David Walgren.

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