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IMAGE: Conrad Murray
Reed Saxon  /  AP
Dr. Conrad Murray has pleaded not guilty and faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death.
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updated 10/24/2011 9:52:25 AM ET 2011-10-24T13:52:25

Michael Jackson was so heavily drugged in the hours before his death that he would have been incapable of self-administering the massive dose of propofol that killed him, a medical expert testified Thursday at the trial of Jackson's doctor.

Dr. Steven Shafer, who presented a number of possible scenarios for Jackson's overdose, said one posed by Dr. Conrad Murray's defense — that the star gave himself the powerful anesthetic — is "crazy."

"He can't give himself an injection if he's asleep," Shafer told jurors.

Story: Jackson witness details Murray's propofol errors
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The more likely scenario was that Murray placed Jackson on an IV propofol drip on the morning of his death then left the room as the singer slept, Shafer said.

Jackson probably stopped breathing before Murray returned, and the singer's lungs emptied while the propofol kept flowing into his body, even after he was dead, the witness said.

"This fits all of the data in this case and I am not aware of a single piece of data that is inconsistent with this explanation," Shafer said.

He suggested Murray infused Jackson with the full contents of a 100 milliliter bottle of the drug with a flow that was regulated only by gravity because the doctor lacked dose regulating equipment. Murray claimed he gave Jackson only 25 milligrams over a period of three to five minutes.

Jurors stood up to get a better view as Shafer used an IV pole and apparatus for a courtroom demonstration. He dribbled the drug into a trash can so they could see how it moved through the tubing.

Earlier, Shafer took the jury through a virtual chemistry class with diagrams and formulas projected on a large screen. He indicated the residue of drugs found during Jackson's autopsy suggested Murray gave his patient much larger doses of sedatives than he told police.

He also said Jackson would have been extremely groggy from the drugs administered by IV throughout the night.

Slideshow: Michael Jackson’s life and career (on this page)

Murray told police he was away from Jackson for just two minutes — a period during which the defense says the singer could have grabbed a syringe and given himself additional propofol.

"People don't just wake up from anesthesia hell bent to pick up a syringe and pump it into the IV," Shafer said, reminding the jury that the procedure was complicated. "It's a crazy scenario."

He also said it was unlikely that Jackson injected himself with a needle because the pop star's veins were too deteriorated and the procedure would have been extremely painful.

Witnesses have said Jackson knew the drug had to be diluted with lidocaine in an IV to prevent burning when it entered the veins.

Shafer, a leading expert on anesthesiology who teaches at Columbia University Medical School, also rejected the claim that Jackson may have swallowed eight pills of the sedative lorazepam, also known as Ativan, causing his death.

Shafer said the amount of lorazepam found in Jackson's stomach was "trivial" and not linked to oral ingestion. He suggested Murray gave Jackson much more lorazepam by IV infusion than the four milligrams he said he did.

After receiving lorazepam, another sedative known as midazolam (Versed) and propofol, Jackson would have been too groggy to handle the infusion of more anesthetic through an IV pump, Shafer said.

His opinions set up an expected clash with the views of his colleague, Dr. Paul White, who was waiting to testify for the defense. The men have been friends and associates for 30 years.

White, who sat in the courtroom taking notes, has suggested to the defense in a written report that Jackson might have swallowed a vial of propofol, accounting for the high level of the drug in his autopsy.

Slideshow: How Jackson's face changed over years (on this page)

But the defense announced last week it had abandoned the theory in May after running its own tests that disproved the theory.

Coroner's officials determined Jackson died on June 25, 2009, from acute propofol intoxication, and Murray has acknowledged giving the singer the drug as a sleep aid. The officials cited other sedatives as a contributing factor.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutor David Walgren concluded his nearly three-day examination of Shafer, with the witness saying Murray was "a direct cause of Michael Jackson's death'" even if Jackson administered a drug to himself.

"He is responsible for every drop of propofol in that room, every drop of lorazepam in that room," Shafer said.

The trial was recessed until Friday afternoon.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Prosecution set to rest in Conrad Murray trial

  1. Closed captioning of: Prosecution set to rest in Conrad Murray trial

    >>> another high profile case in los angeles . the prosecution expected to rest today at the trial of michael jackson 's doctor. nbc's kristen dahlgren is outside the courthouse with the latest. good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, matt. the jury in this case has now heard from 33 witnesses along with reportings of michael jackson 's own voice and dr. conrad murray giving his version of the singer's final moments. so with the prosecution about to rest the question becomes can the defense counter all that to create reasonable doubt ? as they have every day, members of michael jackson 's famous family were at the courthouse.

    >> how are you holding up? what do you think so far?

    >> i'm mad.

    >> reporter: watching as the prosecution called its last witness, propofol expert dr. steven shaffer.

    >> in 25 years giving anesthesia i have never walked out of an operating room with the patient receiving an anesthetic drug. doctors don't do that.

    >> reporter: shaffer used a video to show how he says propofol is correctly used in an operating room and attacked murray for delivering the anesthetic in jackson's home without proper equipment then delaying a call to 911.

    >> that is so egregious that i actually find it difficult to even comprehend.

    >> reporter: the doctor held nothing back as he criticized murray for what he called 17 medical and ethical violations that he says led to jackson's death.

    >> we are in never never land here. something that's only been done to michael jackson , no one else to the best of my knowledge.

    >> reporter: shaffer's testimony caps the prosecution's case and many experts say it leaves the defense with a tough task ahead.

    >> the prosecution case is unbelievably strong. they have proven gross negligence and a deviation from the standard of care in so many different ways that if it was handed to the jury as is, there should be a guilty conviction.

    >> reporter: but the defense will soon get its say. in opening statements murray 's attorney previewed their plans to paint michael jackson as a desperate drug addict who self-administered the fatal dose.

    >> he did an act without his doctor's knowledge, without his doctor's permission, against his orders. he did an act that caused his own death.

    >> reporter: and with the burden of proof on the prosecution, the defense needs just one juror who doubts that murray is to blame.

    >> the defense 's goal is going to be to muddy up the waters to try to raise issues and raise doubt with anything and everything the prosecution has said.

    >> reporter: the defense plans to call 15 witnesses including its own experts, also character witnesses for dr. murray . again, the prosecution is expected to wrap up today and, matt, that means the defense would start on friday.

Photos: The changing face of Michael Jackson

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  1. 1972

    Michael Jackson, 13, was the youngest member of the Jackson 5. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 1977

    Michael Jackson of the Jackson 5 during the 1977 American Music Awards. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 1980

    Michael Jackson won three American Music Awards in 1980. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 1984

    Michael Jackson is seen backstage at the 26th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 1984. (Reed Saxon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 1987

    Michael Jackson appears at the American Cinema Award gala on Jan. 9, 1987, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Bob Galbraith / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 1992

    Michael Jackson as seen in New York in 1992. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 1993

    Michael Jackson performs during a show at the National Stadium in Singapore during his 1993 "Dangerous" tour. (C.F. Tham / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 1995

    Michael Jackson smiles for cameras at the announcement of nominations for the 1995 MTV Video Awards in New York City on July 25, 1995. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 1998

    Michael Jackson gives an interview to the Associated Press in Detroit on July 8, 1998. (Richard Sheinwald1 / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 2000

    Michael Jackson arrives at the G & P Foundation for Cancer Research's Angel Ball on Nov. 30, 2000, in New York. (Suzanne Plunkett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. 2001

    Michael Jackson arrives at the University of Oxford Union in Oxford, England, on March 6, 2001. (Alastair Grant / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 2002

    Michael Jackson appeared at Al Sharpton's National Action Network headquarters in the Harlem neighborhood of New York on July 9, 2002. (Tina Fineberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 2004

    Michael Jackson speaks at a news conference after his arraignment in his child molestation case at the Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse, on April 30, 2004. (Stephen Osman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. 2005

    Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County courthouse in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 27, 2005. (Michael A Mariant / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. 2007

    Michael Jackson poses in Los Angeles on Nov. 8, 2007. (Danny Moloshok / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. 2009

    Michael Jackson at a press conference in London on March 5, 2009. (Joel Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. MICHAEL JACKSON
    AP
    Above: Slideshow (16) The face of change
  2. Michael Jackson in a Butterfly Collar Shirt
    Henry Diltz / Corbis
    Slideshow (33) Michael Jackson’s life and career