Star Witness for Michael Jackson's Doctor Fined for Contempt of Court

Propofol expert and anesthesiologist Dr. Paul White was fined $1,000 in court.

ByJim Avila and Christina Ng
October 31, 2011, 2:10 PM

LOS ANGELES Oct. 31, 2011 — -- The key defense witness in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor was was held in contempt of court today during a tense cross-examination.

Propofol expert and anesthesiologist Dr. Paul White was fined $1,000 for violating the judge's order that he respond directly to questions during the prosecution's cross examination.

White was fined for referring to information he learned from Dr. Conrad Murray outside of the evidence presented in court. This is not allowed because it is seen as providing Murray a way to testify without being cross-examined.

With the trial winding down, Murray said he and his lawyers are still trying to decide if Murray officially will take the stand in his own defense. Judge Michael Proctor told Murray at the end of today's court session that he has only until Tuesday morning to decide.

In an earlier combative exchange, White, the defense's star witness evaded questions, but was continually pressed by prosecutor David Walgren.

White, who is being paid by Murray's defense team, was forced to admit that Murray should have called 911 sooner, should never have left Jackson alone while treating him with the powerful drug, and that he would never give a patient an inappropriate drug no matter how much he or she wanted.

White had previously testified that he believes Jackson gave himself a fatal injection of the drug while Murray was out of the room.

The questioning began with a tense back-and-forth where White admitted it was not normal practice to administer propofol to a patient in a bedroom, like Murray was doing for Jackson to allegedly help him with his insomnia.

"Have you ever administered propofol in a bedroom?" Walgren asked.

"No, I have not," White answered.

"Before this case, have you ever seen someone administer propofol in a bedroom?" Walgren pressed.

"No, I have not," White replied.

White said that he would have never agreed to being the physician hired to administer propofol to Jackson at home.

"I would never even consider it," White said. "It is something that no amount of money could convince me to accept or take on. Because of time and the repsonsibility of someone and a completely off-label use of the drug."

Walgren asked White if he would leave a patient alone if he "knew the patient liked to push [propofol] themselves."

White replied, "No, I would not leave the room."

When Murray discovered something was wrong with Jackson on June 25, 2009, the day of his death, he made two calls to cell phones before calling 911. When asked if he could justify Murray's "inability to call 911," White said he could not.

"I think he should have called 911 earlier, but I do not think that would have made any difference in the outcome of this case," White said.

White conceded to Walgren that, "I would have done things differently. I would have called for help, initiated cardio-pulmonary resuscitation immediately."

When confronted with questions about why Murray did not immediately tell EMS responders that Jackson had been given propofol, White said that in a moment of stress, Murray may have forgotten.

"Details can be overlooked," White said. "I'm not saying it was done in a devious fashion."

Walgren pointed out that even if Murray had initially forgotten, he had an ambulance ride to the hospital to "ponder" what was happening. At the hospital, however, Murray did not tell emergency room doctors that Jackson had been given propofol.

Walgren said that while it is a possibility that Murray "over-looked" the fact, he asked White if it could also be a possiblity that he lied.

"It's an option, yes," White conceded.

Jury to Get the Case Next Week

White said that he has so far received a check for $11,000 for his time in court. He said that his usual rate for every day spent in court is about $3,500. He has been in court around 12 days, as both a spectator and as a witness, but said he would not be charging the defense this amount for the days he has been in court.

White is the last witness for Murray, who the prosecution blames for Jackson's death by giving him too much propofol and not properly monitoring Jackson while administering propofol.

The defense team contends that Murray was trying to wean Jackson off of propofol. They allege Jackson wanted propofol because he was suffering from insomnia brought on by withdrawal from the painkiller Demerol.

At the time of his death, Jackson was preparing for his "This is It" world tour, and exhaustion from that preparation also allegedly contributed to his insomnia.

Though it was originally believed that the case would be handed over to the jury for deliberations this week, ABC News has learned from sources close to the case that the trial may not go to the jury until next week.

Following White's cross-examination, there will likely be two days of rebuttal witnesses and then the judge has agreed to send the jury home to let prosecutors and defense prepare for closing arguments, which could push closing arguments to Monday.

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