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Jackson doctor defends self in NBC interview

Dr. Conrad Murray reacts after the jury returns with a guilty verdict in his involuntary manslaughter trial Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 in a Los Angeles courtroom . Murray was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter after a trial that painted him as a reckless caregiver who administered a lethal dose of a powerful anesthetic that killed the pop star. Dr. Conrad Murray reacts after the jury returns with a guilty verdict in his involuntary manslaughter trial Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 in a Los Angeles courtroom . Murray was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter after a trial that painted him as a reckless caregiver who administered a lethal dose of a powerful anesthetic that killed the pop star. (AP Photo/Al Seib, Pool)
By Linda Deutsch
AP Special Correspondent / November 10, 2011

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LOS ANGELES—Michael Jackson's doctor, who refused to testify at his trial, said in an interview broadcast Thursday that the singer lied to him about his medical history and never revealed he had an addiction problem.

"I would hate to put blame on Michael as an individual," Dr. Conrad Murray told the "Today" show in the interview done days before the doctor's conviction.

"I only wish maybe in our dealings with each other he would have been more forthcoming and honest.to tell me these things about himself," he said.

Interviewer Savannah Guthrie asked: "Do you think he lied to you?"

"Definitely," Murray said.

"About what?" she asked.

"Certainly he was deceptive by not showing me his whole medical history, doctors he was seeing, treatments that he might have been receiving." Murray answered.

"Did you really not know he had an addiction problem?" Guthrie asked.

"Absolutely not," said Murray. "Did not have a clue."

Murray was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter for supplying the insomnia-plagued Jackson with the powerful operating-room anesthetic propofol to help him sleep as he rehearsed for his big comeback.

During the interview, Murray was shown video of bottles of medications from other physicians arrayed on Jackson's bedside table, suggesting Murray's suspicions should have been raised.

"I cannot prevent Michael from seeing other doctors for whatever reason," the doctor said.

"You must have realized the reason he hired you was to give him this drug, propofol," Guthrie said.

"No, not at all," Murray replied. "I met Michael with propofol. This was not something I introduced to Michael."

Experts testified at Murray's trial that propofol should not have been administered in Jackson's home, but the doctor disagreed.

Murray revealed Jackson was under the influence of propofol during a recording found on the doctor's cell phone. Murray said the recording, in which the heavily drugged Jackson talked in a slurred voice about his goal of building a major children's hospital, was made by accident.

Murray, 58, described Jackson as "a desperate man, desperate" during his final hours.

Asked by Guthrie how it felt to be blamed for Jackson's death, he said, "I loved Michael too. I'm as much of a fan as any of the others. To be blamed for his death has not been an easy thing."

"Are you the cause of Michael Jackson's death?" Guthrie asked.

"No, I am not," Murray said.

The interview with the Houston cardiologist was being aired Thursday and Friday. Other excerpts were released Wednesday.

Under questioning by Guthrie, Murray said it was not necessary for him to monitor Jackson in the hours before he died because he had given the pop star only a small dose of propofol. The doctor said that was the reason he didn't mention to arriving paramedics that Jackson had been given the drug.

Guthrie asked, "Well, you told them about the other drugs, but you didn't tell them about propofol?"

"Because it had no effect," Murray said. "It was not an issue."

The coroner, however, found that Jackson, 50, died of acute propofol intoxication complicated by other sedatives.

During the trial, Murray's defense tried to show that Jackson gave himself an extra dose of propofol while Murray was out of the room, but prosecution experts said there was no evidence to support what one witness called the crazy theory.

Asked by Guthrie if he became distracted that morning by phone calls, emailing and text messages, Murray said, "No I was not."

"When I looked at a man who was all night deprived of sleep, who was desperate for sleep and finally is getting some sleep, am I gonna sit over him, sit around him, tug on his feet, do anything unusual to wake him up? No," Murray said.

"You walked out of the room to talk on the phone?" Guthrie asked.

"Absolutely, I wanted him to rest," Murray replied.

Other doctors testified at Murray's trial that leaving a patient alone after administering an anesthetic was an egregious deviation from the standard of care expected of a physician.

In one exchange during the interview, Murray suggested that if he had known Jackson had a problem with addiction to medications he might have acted differently. Experts, however, testified that Murray should have researched Jackson's medical history before he undertook his treatment for insomnia.

On the day Jackson died, June 25, 2009, Murray said he believed he had weaned the singer from propofol, the drug Jackson called his "milk."

But when Jackson could not sleep, Murray told "Today," he gave the entertainer a very small dose of propofol.

In retrospect, he said he probably should have walked away when Jackson asked for propofol. But he said he would have been abandoning a friend.

Meanwhile, the disclosure that MSNBC was airing a documentary about Murray brought outrage Wednesday from the executors of Jackson's estate, who said Murray is getting a prime-time platform to smear Jackson's reputation without fear of cross-examination.

The executors, John Branca and John McClain, demanded the program entitled "Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship" be cancelled. The network said it had no comment.

The documentary was aired Thursday in Britain under the title, "The Man Who Killed Michael Jackson." It follows Murray over two years leading up to his conviction and includes interviews with the doctor and footage of his legal team preparing their case.

Murray is portrayed as a well-meaning doctor entrapped by Jackson in a situation he never anticipated

"I went there to take care of a healthy man, who said he was fine, to just keep surveillance in case my kids get sick or I get the flu, help us to choose right, better foods, and wash our hands so we don't get infected," Murray said. "But once I got in there I was entrapped."

On Twitter, Jermaine Jackson branded the documentary "shameless."

Murray is being held in Los Angeles County Jail awaiting sentencing Nov. 29 and could face up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.