LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson's doctor told a judge Tuesday that he would not testify in his own defense, as testimony came to a close in the involuntary manslaughter trial.
Closing arguments in the six-week case will begin Thursday — one of the final steps before jurors begin deliberations.
Dr. Conrad Murray held his hands over his mouth as if he was praying in the moments before Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor asked the cardiologist whether he intended to take the stand.
The judge also asked if he understood the decision was his alone to make.
"Have you made up your mind," Pastor asked.
Murray paused, looked at all his lawyers, seemed to sigh and said, "My decision is I will not testify in this matter."
The judge asked lead attorney Ed Chernoff if he had conferred with Murray about his rights and Chernoff said yes.
"The court finds the defendant has knowingly, freely and explicitly waived his right to testify," the judge said. "I certainly will respect that decision."
Murray had left open the possibility of testifying on Monday, when he told the judge that he had not made a final decision.
Murray's announcement Tuesday was made outside the presence of jurors.
Defense attorneys rested their case after calling 16 witnesses. A total of 49 witnesses testified over 22 days of trial.
Prosecutors contend Murray gave Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol in the bedroom of the singer's mansion. Defense attorneys claim Jackson self-administered the dose when Murray left the room.
The last witness was prosecution propofol expert, Dr. Steven Shafer, who was called by prosecutors as a rebuttal witness to address a few points raised by previous testimony.
Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death on June 25, 2009. He could face up to four years behind bars and the loss of his medical license if convicted.
Murray's decision against testifying came after hours of intense grilling by a prosecutor of Dr. Paul White, an anesthesia expert who has said he believes Jackson injected himself with the fatal dose of propofol when Murray left his bedside.
After asking only eight questions on Monday, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren had gotten White to acknowledge that Murray had repeatedly violated the physician's standard of care.
Throughout the day, White also told jurors that he would have never done what Murray was doing — giving Jackson propofol as a sleep aid.