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MJ drugged 'as if for major surgery'

2013-05-07 16:44
Los Angeles - Michael Jackson had levels of drugs in his body consistent with someone undergoing major surgery on the day he died in 2009, a coroner's expert said on Monday.

The 50-year-old died from an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol, given by his doctor Conrad Murray to help the singer with chronic insomnia during rehearsals for a doomed series of concerts in London.

Daniel Anderson, a Los Angeles County coroner's office criminalist, testified that Jackson had lidocaine, diazepam, nordiazepam, lorazepam, midazolam in his system.

But the propofol was of most concern, he said. "It raises a red flag in my eyes," he told the LA Superior Court, adding: It's very problematic to find it outside the hospital setting."

Addicted to painkillers

The level was "consistent with major surgery anesthesia," said Anderson, noting that a level of 3.2 milligrams per milliliter of blood was found in Jackson's body.

Jackson's 82-year-old mother is suing concert promoter AEG Live for allegedly negligently hiring Murray, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 over the star's death.

AEG Live claims that Jackson himself hired Murray and was responsible for him, adding that it will produce evidence during the trial that the singer had used propofol since the 1990s, and had long been addicted to painkillers.

At the time of his death, Jackson was rehearsing for a series of 50 shows in London, organised with AEG, in an attempt to revive his career and ease his financial woes.

Ruthless pursuit

At the start of the trial last week, Jackson's lawyer Brian Panish accused AEG of sacrificing the troubled star in a "ruthless" pursuit of profit in the months before his death.

But Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) lawyer Marvin Putnam argued that the mega pop star had hidden the evidence of his addiction and health woes from everyone, including his family and the concert promoters.

Putman also said Jackson was some $400m in debt when he approached AEG in 2008 with the idea of putting on the London shows, which were to be followed by a global tour and a possible Las Vegas residency.

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