Nightly News   |  October 23, 2011

Trial of Jackson's doctor moving to final phase

The trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is accused of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death, is expected to move toward a conclusion this week. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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LESTER HOLT, anchor: In Los Angeles the trial of Michael Jackson 's doctor moves into its next phase this week as the prosecution rests and the defense begins its case. Dr. Conrad Murray 's lawyers are expected to blame the singer for his own death and claim their experts will prove it. NBC 's Kristen Dahlgren has more tonight.

KRISTEN DAHLGREN reporting: Monday morning propofol expert Dr. Steven Shafer will be back on the stand. For three days the final prosecution witness has pointed the finger directly at Dr. Conrad Murray for Michael Jackson 's death.

Dr. STEVEN SHAFER: It's an egregious violation. No competent physician would give these drugs without having emergency airway equipment present.

DAHLGREN: Shafer laid out what he considers 17 violations that could have killed Jackson , and showed jurors how he believed Dr. Murray set up an IV drip of the anesthetic propofol that ran into the singer's veins even after he died.

Dr. SHAFER: This is an extremely unsafe setup.

DAHLGREN: In aggressive and often dramatic cross examination...

Mr. ED CHERNOFF (Defense Attorney): You understand that Dr. Murray is literally on trial for his life.

DAHLGREN: ...the defense tried to discredit Dr. Shafer .

Mr. CHERNOFF: Is it opinion or isn't it?

Dr. SHAFER: It is -- it is my opinion that that's what's happened, that is correct.

Mr. CHERNOFF: Do you -- would you be at all surprised that there are other medical experts that would disagree with you?

DAHLGREN: Those other experts include defense witness Dr. Paul White , expected to say Michael Jackson took a fatal combination of lorazepam and propofol himself and that Murray didn't use an IV drip of propofol.

Ms. LAURIE LEVENSON (Legal Expert): Dr. White , who is the prosecution's professor, is going to come in and point out mistakes with Dr. Shafer 's testimony, that he didn't really know the drug, he didn't know the literature, and that he was making all the assumptions just to have an opinion against Dr. Murray .

DAHLGREN: There is no love lost between the experts. Dr. White has been seen rolling his eyes in court and faces a hearing for calling Shafer or the prosecutor a scumbag in front of reporters. But as the trial now moves towards its end, the verdict may indeed come down to these two experts and which one the jury believes. Kristen Dahlgren, NBC News, Los Angeles .