Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Michael Jackson Doctor Conrad Murray Hid Evidence, Guard Testifies

Testimony has Conrad Murray removing IV stand and two bags of medication.
By Gil Kaufman, with additional reporting by Kara Warner

Alberto Alvarez, Michael Jackson's bodyguard, leaves court after testifying at the preliminary hearing for Dr. Conrad Murray on January 5
Photo: Toby Canham/Getty Images

The second day of testimony in the preliminary hearing of Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, featured damning testimony from one of the late King of Pop's bodyguards about Murray's actions in the critical minutes after the singer was found unresponsive.

After a former Jackson staffer testified Tuesday that Murray appeared to not know how to perform CPR properly, security guard Alberto Alvarez said on Wednesday (January 5) that the cardiologist frantically grabbed medical evidence from the star's bedroom before instructing Alvarez to call 911.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Alvarez said he was the first person to walk into Jackson's bedroom after Murray realized his patient was not breathing, where he found the cardiologist administering chest compressions with one hand while Jackson lay on his bed, which goes against the recommended procedure for the life-saving method.

"I said, 'Dr. Murray, what happened?' " Alvarez told the court. " 'He had a bad reaction, he had a bad reaction,' that's all he said." Alvarez choked up as he described how Jackson's daughter, Paris, followed him into the room and screamed when she saw her father sprawled out and unresponsive on the bed.

He said Murray then instructed him to get the children out of the room, noticing as he left that Jackson's penis was out of his underwear and that medical tubing was attached to it. When Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked Alvarez if he knew what a condom catheter was, the security guard said he did not.

Alvarez said he then witnessed Murray grabbing a handful of bottles, which he instructed the security guard to put in a bag. He told the court that he held open the bag as the doctor dropped the bottles of medicine inside and then put it in a brown canvas bag on the floor, per Murray's instructions. Murray also allegedly told Alvarez to grab one of the two bags hanging on an IV stand next to Jackson's bed and put it in another bag. Alvarez said he noticed a "milk-like substance" in the bottom of the IV bag.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office determined that Jackson died of an acute intoxication of propofol, a powerful surgical anesthetic sometimes referred to as "milk of amnesia" thanks to its milky white appearance. Only after the medical materials had been put away did Murray tell Alvarez to call 911.

"After you had collected the bottles per Dr. Murray's instructions, and after you had collected the bags per Dr. Murray's instructions, did Dr. Murray instruct you to call 911?" Walgren asked. "Yes, sir," Alvarez responded.

TMZ reported that during cross-examination, defense attorney Ed Chernoff got Alvarez to admit that he never told police about Murray ordering him to remove the bottles and Alvarez later admitted that he may try to sell his story.

Later in the day, EMT Richard Senniff testified that he arrived at the Jackson home, just four minutes after the 911 call was placed. According to TMZ, Senniff said that, based on the condition of Jackson's body, it appeared that Murray waited at least 20 minutes to call 911. Senniff also stated that when he asked Murray what meds Jackson had been administered, he only listed lorazepam (Ativan).

Jackson cook Kai Chase also testified, revealing the food she prepared for Jackson prior to his death (seared ahi tuna and salad, white bean Tuscan soup) and that she knew something was wrong when Murray came downstairs in a panic and summoned Jackson's son, Prince.

The preliminary hearing is aimed at determining whether there is enough evidence to try Murray on a felony count of involuntary manslaughter in the June 2009 death of the King of Pop. It is expected to last two to three weeks.

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