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'Jacko hooked on another painkiller' - Murray

THE battle of scientific experts in the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor took a new turn late yesterday.

Defence lawyers made an 11th-hour disclosure that their scientific expert has devised a new computer simulation shedding light on what killed the pop superstar. Prosecutors told the judge they were surprised by the new development and need time to study the software programme used by Dr Paul White, a top expert on the anaesthetic propofol. The judge agreed.

He said Dr White could conclude his defence testimony today but he would give the prosecution the weekend to analyse the computer data before the star witness of Dr Conrad Murray's defence is cross-examined.

The new twist means another delay in the trial, which was due to finish today.

Murray's lawyers also called an expert to testify that Jackson was addicted to the painkiller Demerol in the months before his death.

They suggested the singer's withdrawal from the drug triggered the insomnia that Murray was trying to resolve when he gave Jackson propofol.

Murray's attorneys claim the ultimate blame lies with Jackson himself, but they also sought to implicate his dermatologist in the drug-laced path to his June 2009 death.

Lethal

They called Dr White to the stand late in the day to cast doubt on a colleague's earlier testimony that Murray was responsible for Jackson's death.

He said he was "perplexed" after reading documents in the case about whether Murray administered the propofol dose that killed Jackson.

Dr White noted that Murray described to police a very low dose of the drug. If that was true, Dr White said: "I would not have expected Michael Jackson to have died."

Authorities contend Murray delivered the lethal dose and botched resuscitation efforts. Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.

There was no mention of propofol during the testimony of Dr Robert Waldman, an addiction expert who said he studied the records of Dr Arnold Klein, Jackson's longtime dermatologist, in concluding the star was dependent on Demerol. Records showed Dr Klein used Demerol on Jackson repeatedly for procedures to enhance his appearance.

No Demerol was discovered in the singer's system when he died, but propofol was found throughout his body.

Under questioning by Murray's lead lawyer, Ed Chernoff, Dr Waldman said: "I believe there is evidence that he (Jackson) was dependent on Demerol, possibly."

Dr Klein has emerged as the missing link in the involuntary manslaughter trial, with the defence raising his name at every turn and the judge ruling he may not be called as a witness because his care of Jackson is not at issue. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

But Dr Klein's handwritten notes on his visits with Jackson were introduced through Dr Waldman, who said Dr Klein was giving Jackson unusually high doses of Demerol for four months -- from March through June 2009 -- with the last shots coming three days before the singer's death.

Over three days in April, the records showed Jackson received 775 milligrams of Demerol along with small doses of the sedative Versed.

Withdrawal

Dr Waldman's testimony showed Dr Klein, who also was Jackson's longtime friend, was giving the singer huge doses of the drug at the same time as Murray was giving Jackson the anaesthetic propofol to sleep.

"This is a large dose for a dermatology procedure in an office," Dr Waldman said.

He told jurors the escalating doses showed Jackson had developed a tolerance to the drug and was probably addicted. He said a withdrawal symptom from the drug is insomnia.

The trial continues.