LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The attorney representing Michael Jackson’s former doctor in the appeal of his manslaughter conviction says it has become “increasingly difficult” for him to remain silent as the civil trial between the Jackson family and AEG Live continues.
Valerie Wass is representing Conrad Murray in the former physician’s bid to overturn the 2011 criminal ruling, in which he was convicted for administering the fatal dose of anesthetic propofol that killed Michael Jackson in 2009.
Wass told CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige her client’s decision to refuse to answer questions in the civil trial by invoking his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination could change.
“I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to hear himself berated and to remain silent,” she explained, suggesting that Murray may no longer need to fear his testimony could be self-incriminating.
“I think that he has an important story to tell. It’s not a story, it’s the truth. I don’t see how telling the truth can incriminate him at this point or at any point,” Wass said.
The civil trial has now extended more than 12 weeks, with the jury hearing testimony from more than 15 witnesses.
Jackson family attorneys are trying to convince jurors that Murray was working for AEG and was pressured into making medical decisions that ultimately cost the singer his life.
AEG argues the doctor was chosen by and was working for Michael Jackson and that the firm had nothing to do with Murray’s actions. The physician’s attorneys theorized during his criminal trial Michael Jackson self-administered his fatal dose.
So far neither side in the civil case has called Murray as a witness.
Wass says both sides, for their own reasons, are afraid of what he might share on the stand.
“I think what he has to say would be very important to this trial,” she said.
AEG attorneys Wednesday began their second full day of presenting their defense, calling witnesses who dispute Jackson family estimates that Michael Jackson’s premature death cost his estate about $1 billion in lost earnings.
A judge meanwhile confiscated the phone of a spectator at the civil trial Wednesday after he snapped a photo in a courthouse hallway that includes jurors hearing the case.
Bailiffs ordered William Wagener to return to court Thursday to learn whether a ban on him attending the trial will be permanent.
Wagener says he inadvertently snapped the photo Wednesday while riding a courthouse escalator.
Security around the negligence trial between Jackson’s mother and concert promoter AEG Live LLC has been tight. Daily admonitions are given to spectators that photographs and transmissions from inside the courtroom are prohibited.
Wagener posts news about Michael Jackson on Facebook and YouTube.
He attended Jackson’s 2005 criminal trial and says a ban would hurt his ability to cover the current case.
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