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Doctor's defense: Michael Jackson was 'a desperate man'

By Alan Duke, CNN
  • Michael Jackson "took desperate measures that caused his own death," doctor's defense says
  • Dr. Conrad Murray's attorneys can't see Jackson's financial records, the judge rules
  • But the judge ordered Jackson's dermatologist to hand over medical records

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Michael Jackson's dermatologist was ordered to give copies of the pop star's medical records Wednesday to attorneys for the doctor charged in Jackson's death.

But a lawyer for Jackson's estate was successful in convincing the judge not to order estate executors to give the defense detailed financial information about money the singer owed when he died.

Dr. Conrad Murray, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, allegedly gave Jackson the propofol that the coroner ruled caused the star's death on June 25, 2009.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff argued Wednesday he needed the financial and medical information to make the case that Jackson, who was "a desperate man in many respects," gave himself the fatal dose of surgical anesthesia while the doctor was not watching.

"He was actually in more debt as a result of the concerts than he would have obtained from doing the concerts," Chernoff said.

The defense believes music catalogs owned by Jackson were "essentially worthless" because of several loans in which they were used as collateral, Chernoff said.

"Jackson did a desperate act and took desperate measures that caused his own death," Chernoff said. "Therefore, his emotional, physical and financial condition are relevant to show his state of mind when he did this act."

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled that the defense subpoena for Jackson's financial records, which his estate controls, was overly broad.

"I'm not going to turn a trial involving involuntary manslaughter into an escapade and into a detailed analysis of the finances of Michael Jackson's entire life," Pastor said.

The judge, however, did not quash the defense subpoena ordering Jackson estate executor John Branca to testify in the trial.

Jury selection, which began last month, will continue into early May. Opening statements and testimony are scheduled to begin May 9.

The defense argued that Jackson self-administered the propofol in a desperate attempt to get sleep before a rehearsal.

Murray told investigators he was trying to wean Jackson off propofol in the last days of his life, but that he used it in combination with other drugs to help the pop star sleep that last morning.

The defense alleges the singer's dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, injected Jackson with powerful painkillers dozens of times in the last months of his life, unknown to Murray.

The Medical Board of California and Los Angeles County coroner investigated Klein after Jackson's death, but he was never charged, and no action was taken against his medical license.

Last week, the judge also ordered Jackson's business manager to testify in the trial.

Tohme Tohme had "intimate knowledge of his finances, drug use, his habits" in his final months, defense attorney Nareg Gourjian said.

"His financial difficulties at the time is clearly relevant to our assertion that Mr. Jackson self-administered himself with propofol," Gourjian said.