LOS ANGELES – Testimony drew to a close in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician Tuesday as the doctor announced he will not testify in his own defense.
Dr. Conrad Murray waited until the last possible moment to declare his intention not to take the stand, telling the judge as late as Monday afternoon he had yet to make up his mind. After the final defense witness completed his testimony Tuesday, Murray took his time responding to the judge’s question about his final decision.
After informing Murray of his constitutional rights to testify or to remain silent, Judge Michael Pastor asked the doctor, “What is your decision?”
Murray paused, looked to his lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff and then to his left at two other lawyers. The audience in the packed courtroom, including the Jackson family, waited on the edge of their seats.
The physician opened his mouth and began saying: “My decision is to not testify … .”
Minutes later, the defense rested its case and the prosecution, after presenting brief rebuttal testimony, closed its presentation of evidence in the six-week trial. That set the stage for closing arguments to begin Thursday.
Murray’s announcement came while jurors were out of the room and he was not asked to repeat it for them.
It is rare for criminal defendants to testify, and legal observers following the case have said it would be unlikely and unwise for Murray to choose to do so. The physician would probably have been subject to blistering cross-examination by prosecutors on what witnesses have said were Murray’s many cover-up attempts and egregious medical misjudgments.