As the trial of the Houston cardiologist accused of causing Michael Jackson’s overdose death gets underway, the doctor’s attorneys are preparing to argue that the blame should be pointed at the other person who was in the room: the King of Pop himself, reports the Los Angeles Times. Jackson may have injected the lethal dose, or drunk it, attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray have suggested. It may have been out of financial desperation, pressure to perform or anxiety about his career comeback.
Blaming the patient for his or her own death is a common defense in the small but growing number of cases of doctors charged in connection with overdose deaths, where a patient’s desperate search for drugs collides with a physician’s responsibilities. “There’s a fundamental human theme that occurs in all of these cases, that is how much the defense can paint the addict as this powerful driving force, in some sense bent on killing himself,” said UCLA law Prof. Peter Arenella. “If the jury starts viewing the victim in that light, it’s easy for them to acquit the doctor of any serious criminal charge.” Murray, 58, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, injecting Jackson with the dangerous surgical anesthetic propofol at the entertainer’s rented mansion and leaving his bedside.