The last phase of the final arguments I am interested in is the prosecution rebuttal. Many prosecutors don’t specifically prepare for the rebuttal and lose one of their greatest advantages. They have been given the priceless gift of primacy and recency yet many fail to take advantage. Unfortunately for Conrad Murray his prosecutor, David Walgren, is not one of these incompetents.
The rebuttal has to be prepared well in advance of the trial. One can’t get up and hope for divine guidance in the heat of a trial. One doesn’t have the luxury of waiting. If you know the case, you should have a good idea what the defense will argue and thus can prepare for it. The first final argument sets out your theory of the case along with the best facts supporting it. It is the rebuttal where you get to deconstruct the opponent’s arguments.
The refutation should be saved until the rebuttal. If you forecast them in your first argument all you do is give the defense a chance to respond. So how do your prepare to rebut an argument you haven’t heard yet? Identify your main issues and construct a rebuttal outline for them. Then you are free to listen to the defense argument and soak it in.
The best lawyers have the ability to turn their opponent’s theory of the case and themes against them.
Here is Walgren’s rebuttal:
I will be brief. But I do want to touch on a few things said by Mr. Chernoff. First of all let’s be perfectly clear. We are here for one reason and one reason only. The actions and failure to act by Conrad Murray.
The cameras may be here because of Michael Jackson but we are here for the actions of Conrad Murray. Because of the bizarre, grossly negligent, and criminally negligent actions of Murray that caused the death of Michael Jackson. That is why we are here. So don’t be fooled by the statements of Mr. Chernoff that we are here because of Michael Jackson.
What Murray has done has never been done before. No one has seen Propofol administered outside a hospital setting. Let alone in a bedroom. No expert has ever heard of such a thing. This is not a deviation of procedure; this is criminal gross negligence. Administering an agent that causes respiratory failure when not used properly causes death. And doing it as a one-man operation. With no equipment, no safety measures. Nothing. This has never been seen before. This is bizarre unethical and unconscionable behavior. That is why we are here.
HLN takes an inconvenient commercial break.
….. His character witnesses were treated in a hospital with a heart monitor. etc. That has nothing to do with the care or lack thereof given to Michael Jackson.
Poor Conrad Murray . . . everyone is just working against him. They blame Alisa Fleet, they blame Alberto Alvarez, they blame Dr. Shafer, they blame AEG, they blame Randy Phillips, Michael Amir Williams, Arnold Klein, everybody but Conrad Murray. Poor Conrad Murray. Remember back they called Rubin to the stand and asked what was Conrad’s demeanor like, was it sad? Yes he seemed upset. Because it is about Conrad, how he is feeling, it is all about Murray. I said let’s talk about grieving. Had to hear the crying a grieving of a mother who lost her son. But poor Conrad Murray, how was he feeling? He should feel bad for taking the life of a man through gross negligence. So Michael Jackson is to blame. Alberto Alvarez is lying, Alissa is lying, Dr. Shafer is a cop.
Kai Chase failed to do something. Murray didn’t call 911, so how does it fall on her when a medical doctor is in the house? The defense gets up here and has the nerve to blame the chef in the kitchen.
If he was allowed more time to argue, he would have blamed it on his son Prince. (How does Chernoff let this go by without an objection?)
Everyone is to blame but Conrad Murray. If Alvarez wanted to lie, he could have done a lot better than the saline bag. And now it is a conspiracy between Alvarez and the medical examiner investigator. But it is a conspiracy because it is poor Conrad Murray.
Why would the bottle be in there? Everything Murray did is bizarre. He waited 20 minutes to even bother to have someone call 911. That is bizarre. He gave Propofol in the bedroom every night for two months. That is bizarre. He lied to the paramedics about giving Propofol. He lied to the UCLA doctors about giving Propofol. That is bizarre. Does it surprise you he would have some unusual set-up for the saline bag? Again we don’t know why it was set up that way.
Everything this doctor did was bizarre. None of it was consistent with a trained medical doctor putting his patient first. Michael Jackson, it was his fault. It is his fault Murray left him alone in the room. No doubt Jackson said he wanted Propofol to help him sleep. But there is a list of doctors who said no because it was dangerous and harmful and one doctor who said yes for $150,000 a month, he said yes.
Poor Conrad Murray. Michael Jackson is dead and we have to hear about poor Conrad Murray. And no doctor knows what it is like to be in his shoes. You got that right. No doctor in this case who testified – they would never do what Conrad Murray did. Ever. Including the defense experts.
We didn’t hear anything about Dr. White’s science, did we? All his experiments, simulation, etc. We didn’t hear about it because as I said before it is all junk science.
Steve Shafer came in here pro bono no payment and told the truth. He provided simulations. He gave you examples. He rejected their simulations. The oral Lorazapam Shafer said that was possible if outside the 4-hour window. He said it couldn’t happen as the defense put it in their hypothetical question.
We don’t know how it happened. If Murray gave it or not. No matter where it happened, he had a legal duty of care. To monitor and insure the safety of his patient. The law recognizes it as a legal duty
He talks about causation. Conrad Murray administered the Propofol.
Let’s talk about direct causation. Had he not abandoned his patient, this wouldn’t have happened. If he had monitoring equipment with alarms, this wouldn’t have happened. If Murray knew how to effectively resuscitate a patient, this wouldn’t have happened. But the law here too recognizes it only has to be a natural and probable consequence. It has unpredictable effect. It affects different patients in different ways. It is because of these variables that you need the equipment there.
It is entirely foreseeable and predictable Dr. White would not leave the patient alone. Because he knows what the consequences would be.
Alberto Alvarez, if he wanted to lie, could have said he walked in the room and saw Murray hiding bottles. Or Murray told him he fell asleep. Or he had been in the other room and an infusion line killed Michael Jackson. If he wanted to lie. There was no proof of a reason to lie. This has been nothing but a nightmare to him. He told you the truth. He told you what he saw.
The coroner’s investigator told you what she saw. She is telling the truth. It is the absolute truth. This isn’t some master conspiracy by them against Murray.
And they are worried about Dr. Shafer. That he was a cop. He provided all his data to the defense. He personally created the scenarios the defense requested. Steve Shafer told you it was possible Jackson unhooked the roller clamp. He said I can’t rule that out. That is not someone with an agenda to place blame. That is a scientist. Because he can’t rule out that scenario.
Now it is our position even under that scenario he is still guilty. But Shafer told you the science. No one can say who gave Jackson the Lorazapam. Did Murray give it? Did Jackson take it? Either way, it is a controlled substance, and to leave Jackson in that way created by Murray and then abandon the patient. He gave you the science and told you the truth.
He says Alvarez’s fingerprints aren’t on the saline bag. Well neither is Michael Jackson’s. There is a whole list of items clearly handled that don’t have prints on them.
People’s 30 does have Murray’s prints on the bottle in the saline bag.
Think about the deception and lies in this case by Dr. Murray. [He goes through a list of them. It is a pretty damning list.]
He lied because it is consciousness of guilt and he lied to save himself. He lied to more people.
Conrad Murray lied to Michael Jackson when he assured him he would be safe. Conrad Murray lied about insisting there had to be an autopsy. He had no part in it.
Conrad Murray said he talked to the mother and told her he didn’t know what happened to her son. He pulled the chair up close and said he didn’t know. Poor Conrad Murray.
The law is very clear on causation. And the defense theory that Michael Jackson self-administered is not an unforseen or extraordinary occurrence. He described Michael as having a dependency. He might give it himself. He gave him the Valium, the Lorazapam and the Propofol. And abandoned Michael Jackson. The people do not and can not prove exactly what happened behind those closed doors. Michael Jackson could give answers but he is dead. But you know what was happening every night. You know the volume of Propofol that was shipped. You know what was and what was not found. And you know Michael Jackson died from Propofol intoxication. A natural and probable consequence. A foreseeable consequence and that is why you don’t give it in a bedroom. Every doctor agreed with that. It was not unusual and unpredictable what happened.
Conrad Murray felt so deeply for Michael Jackson. Well I say actions speak far greater than words. Because what Conrad Murray did was continue the Propofol, continue the Benzodiazapam, knows exactly what it was doing to him. He knew on May 10th when he recorded that drugged up recording.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I started by saying this was a relationship built on trust and clearly Michael Jackson put his trust in Conrad Murray, not only on a nightly basis, but also on June 25th. He brought the Propofol into the house. He administered the Propofol. He abandoned his patient. Failed to have any monitoring equipment or back up personnel, he failed to call 911.
He is criminally liable for the death of Michael Jackson, not because it was Michael Jackson, but because Conrad Murray acted with criminal negligence. He was a substantial factor in the death of Michael Jackson
Consider all the evidence, apply the law, and I trust you will find that the issue whether he was criminally negligent is not that complicated. I trust and I ask you to return the only true and just verdict – a verdict of guilty. Based on Conrad Murray’s actions and his actions alone.
Walgren had a number of themes he pushed in the rebuttal. He hammered the defense with the “poor Conrad” theme and the “bizarre” themes. Actually Walgren gave the defense more credit than they deserved. They didn’t even raise these themes effectively in their argument. Walgren in effect put up a strawman then gloriously shot him down.
The defense had the wrong theory of the case right from the beginning. I believe they gave Michael Jackson and his whole dysfunctional family a pass. Chernoff should have argued Jackson’s whole life was reckless and thus it is far more likely he was reckless here rather than “poor” Conrad Murray. Jackson dangled one kid over a balcony, created the Neverland Ranch as a child magnet, paid off a $20 million settlement for abuse, spent all his money, used drugs, etc. Instead, they painted him as a poor unknowing patient who was abused by Murray.
On the other hand Murray, who went to school, became a doctor, saved lives, treated destitute patients for free, is painted as the reckless one. The contrast is pretty stark. But the defense let the prosecution set up the distinction that the doctor was reckless and the patient an unknowing ingenue. I know it is risky attacking a dead person, but it had to be done. And don’t get me started on the leaches in the Jackson family. I see now they are gearing up to sue AEG for a ton of cash. After that, they will find more ways to exploit Michael, even over his dead body.
I spent a lot of time typing out his words as best I could. It is not a perfect transcript but I hope it shows how well Walgren spoke. He spoke in articulate complete sentences and completed almost all of his thoughts. He answered every argument that the defense put up. He created new themes based on their arguments and he was able to hold many of them up to ridicule. He was well prepared for the rebuttal and he listened closely to the defense. This allowed him in very little time to perform devastating rebuttal. This was not a weak postscript. This was a coup de grace. This was as good as it gets.