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5 patients praise Michael Jackson’s doctor

The 82-year-old woman walked with a cane and had to be helped into the witness box, but once there, she was forceful in her defense of the doctor accused in Michael Jackson’s death.

Dr. Conrad Murray, Ruby Mosley told jurors at the physician’s manslaughter trial, was neither greedy nor brusque. In a hardscrabble Houston neighborhood a world away from Jackson’s rented Holmby Hills mansion, Murray was generous with his time and care for the low-income patients who crowded his office every two weeks, she said.

“You did not see a sign when you walked in that said: Pay at the time service is rendered. You did not see a sign that said: Present your ID or your insurance card,” Mosley said. “You saw the doctor first.”

Mosley and four other patients took the stand Wednesday to offer jurors a different picture of the doctor from the one prosecutors built over a four-week case: an avaricious physician after a $150,000-a-month salary, who disregarded all medical principles to do what Jackson asked then abandoned him as his heart stopped.

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One after another, the character witnesses described Murray as competent, thorough and caring. The physician, who for the most part had displayed no affect throughout trial, grew visibly emotional and wiped away tears.

“That man sitting there is the best doctor I’ve ever seen,” said Andrew Guest, who said Murray treated him for a heart condition in 2002. “I’m alive today because of that man.”

One longtime patient and friend, Gerry Causey, said he had appointments in Murray’s office that lasted 4 1/2 hours. After each appointment, Murray called his wife to explain what he was going through, Causey recalled.

“Dr. Murray is not the type to rush through procedures, anyone knows that,” said Lunette Sampson, a patient at Murray’s Las Vegas practice who suffered several heart attacks and blockages in her heart and legs. “When we come, we know we are going to be there for a while because he’s very careful to take care of his patients.”

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Each of the patients said Murray would provide free care or help get medications for patients who couldn’t pay. Dennis Hix recalled how Murray agreed to care for his uninsured brother for free until he turned 65 and qualified for Medicare.

Mosley recalled how Murray set up the clinic in her low-income, senior-citizen neighborhood in Houston in honor of his father, who was a longtime physician there.

“If this man had been greedy, he never would have come to an area or community of Acres Homes, 75% of them poor, on welfare and Social Security,” said Mosley, who first met Murray at his father’s funeral.

In his cross-examinations, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren noted that each patient seen by the cardiologist received heart-related treatments and not any care relating to sleep disorders or drug dependency. Murray gave Jackson nightly intravenous drips of a surgical anesthetic for more than two months to get him to sleep.

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The patients said that when Murray sedated them for procedures, it was in hospital settings with monitoring equipment and backup personnel –- precautions that prosecutors said the doctor should have taken with Jackson.

“Wouldn’t you believe that every patient deserves that level of care?” Walgren asked Guest.

“Yes, sir,” he responded.

Also on Wednesday, outside the presence of jurors, Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor addressed Murray directly on the subject of whether he plans to take the stand. He has an “absolute right” to testify or not to testify independent of his attorneys, Pastor told the doctor. Murray was not among the upcoming defense witnesses that a defense attorney listed for the judge.

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“The important thing Dr. Murray, is that it is your decision, nobody else’s,” the judge said.

“Yes,” Murray responded.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

harriet.ryan@latimes.com


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