A photo of a dead Michael Jackson was shown in court today while the doctor who performed an autopsy on the singer told jurors that it would have been nearly impossible for Jackson to have given himself a lethal dose of drugs.
"The circumstances from my point of view do not support self administration of propfol," said Los Angeles Deputy Medical Examiner Christopher Rogers.
Jackson died of a drug overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009 after rehearsing for his comeback tour. Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, could face four years of prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death.
Rogers appeared to challenge the defense's theory that Jackson gave himself a lethal dose of drugs in the two minute time period that Murray claims he was away from Jackson in a nearby bathroom.
"In order for Mr. Jackson to administer the propofol to himself, you have to believe that he... woke up, although he was at least to some extent under the influence of other sedatives, he was able to administer propofol to himself," Rogers said.
Even if a drowsy, drugged Jackson was able to self-administer the propofol, Rogers said it still takes time for the drug to circulate throughout the body and for that all to happen in a two minute period would be difficult.
Jackson's propofol was being administered by IV drip into his leg. Rogers said that there was no white fluid resembling propofol in Jackson's throat, esophagus or stomach, debunking the possibility that the singer could have taken the propofol orally without Murray's knowledge.
During opening statements, Murray's defense attorney Ed Chernoff told jurors that Jackson gave himself a dose of propofol and the sedative lorazepam creating a "perfect storm" that killed the singer instantly.
"When Dr. Murray came into the room and found Michael Jackson, there was no CPR, there was no doctor, no paramedic, no machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson. He died so rapidly, so instantly, he didn't even have time to close his eyes," Chernoff said on Sept. 27.
Rogers said that Jackson's death is a homicide and that he died of acute propofol intoxication with a contributing effect from two sedatives also found in Jackson's system: lorazepam and midazolam.
In rejecting the defense argument that Jackson took the drug without his doctor's knowledge, Rogers indicated that it was more likely that Murray accidentally overdosed Jackson.
"The ultimate scenario would be in order to keep Mr. Jackson asleep, the doctor has to give a little bit [of propofol] from time to time, which in this case is going to add up to two or three tablespoons per hour to keep him asleep," Rogers said. "Now we did not find any precision dosing device which means that essentially the doctor would be estimating how much propofol he was giving to come up with two to three tablespoons per hour, and I think it would be easy to estimate wrong and give too much propfol."
Murray told police in a taped interview that he had given Jackson sedatives and propofol to help him sleep, something that the medical examiner criticized on the witness stand.
"The problem Michael Jackson was having was that he couldn't sleep and it's not appropriate to give propofol in that situation," he said.
Propofol is typically administered in a hospital setting through an IV and is sometimes called "milk" by addicts. Murray claims that he was trying to wean Jackson off the drug, but that Jackson begged for his "milk" on the day he died.
In addition to the potentially damning testimony about Jackson's mode of death, Rogers revealed details about the pop icon's health issues at the time he died. Rogers said that Jackson's overall health was good. While he was extremely thin at only 136 pounds, his Body Mass Index was still in the normal range and his heart was in good shape.
The 50-year-old singer was suffering from an enlarged prostate and vitiligo, Rogers said. Jackson had some chronic inflammation and swelling in his lungs as well as arthritis and a polyp on his colon. The king of pop also had an extra rib, the medical examiner noted.