Michael Jackson fan Lesley Cole of Los Angeles poses with her signs Wednesday at Los Angeles Superior Court as she shows her support for the late singer outside the preliminary hearing for Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, who is charged in the death of the singer. — Photo by The Associated Press
Los Angeles —
As Michael Jackson’s lifeless body lay on a bed in his palatial mansion, a bodyguard obeyed a frantic doctor’s instructions to bag up medicine bottles and intravenous bags and shield the Jackson children from seeing their father — all before being told to call police, court testimony revealed Wednesday.
Alberto Alvarez said he was the first security guard to reach Jackson’s room after word came that something was wrong. He described a shocking scene.
The King of Pop was on his bed connected to an IV tube and a urinary catheter. His eyes and mouth were open, and Dr. Conrad Murray was leaning over him doing one-handed chest compressions to try to revive him.
Alvarez said he was “frozen” at the sight.
“I said, ‘Dr. Murray, what happened?’ And he said, ‘He had a reaction. He had a bad reaction,’” Alvarez recalled.
The testimony came during a preliminary hearing to determine if Murray, the singer’s personal physician, will be tried on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Authorities contend Murray gave Jackson a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion before he died June 25, 2009.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said in his opening statement Jackson was already dead when Murray summoned help and tried to conceal his administering of propofol to the pop star, ordering the bodyguard to collect items before paramedics were called.
Murray was providing Jackson propofol roughly six times a week since being hired as the singer’s personal physician in May 2009, as Jackson prepared for a series of comeback concerts, Walgren said.
On the witness stand, Alvarez recalled Jackson’s children, Paris and Prince, walking into the room during the effort to revive their father.
“Paris screamed, ‘Daddy!’ and she started to cry. Dr. Murray said, ‘Get them out. Don’t let them see him like this,’” the bodyguard said.
Alvarez’s voice choked as he described Paris crying, and he took a moment to compose himself.
“I said, ‘Children, don’t worry, we’ll take care of this.’ And I escorted them out and left the door ajar,” Alvarez said.
In the courtroom audience, Jackson’s mother, Katherine, dabbed at her eyes during the most detailed public account yet of events surrounding the death of her son. She came to court with her husband, Joe, and children Randy, Janet and LaToya. They made no eye contact with Murray across the courtroom.
They heard Alvarez testify that he helped Murray bag the medicine and saw an unidentified “white milky substance” in the bottom of an intravenous bag.
“He just grabbed a handful of bottles, or vials, and he instructed me to put them in a bag,” Alvarez testified, adding Murray also told him to place an intravenous bag into another sack.
Walgren asked if it was true that police had not yet been called.
“That’s true,” Alvarez replied.
After collecting everything and bagging it, Alvarez said, Murray told him to call police. The prosecutor then played a recording of the call.
Alvarez was heard on the tape telling the police operator that Jackson’s private doctor was there, and she responded that he would be “the higher authority.”
When the operator said to transfer Jackson to the floor, Alvarez grabbed Jackson’s legs and Murray grabbed his upper body. He said at that point he noticed the IV in Jackson’s leg that had to be removed. Alvarez also saw that Jackson had the urinary catheter.
Alvarez said Murray then asked him to give Jackson chest compression, while Murray did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Murray said, “‘You know this is the first time I give mouth-to-mouth but I have to do it because he’s my friend,’” Alvarez recalled.
“Did it appear he was breathing?” Walgren asked.
“No, sir,” Alvarez said.
“His eyes and mouth were open?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” the witness said.
“Did he seem to be alive or dead?” Walgren asked.
“Dead, sir,” Alvarez said.
Murray, a Houston cardiologist, has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys have contended he did not give Jackson anything that could have killed the singer.
Defence lawyers did not deliver an opening statement at the hearing. Murray could face up to four years in prison if convicted.