Michael Jackson's personal assistant, Michael Amir Williams, testifies during the second day of Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in downtown Los Angeles, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011.
associated press Enlarge
LOS ANGELES -- Prosecution witnesses testified Wednesday that Michael Jackson's personal physician covered up the pop star's health both before and after his death, misleading concert promoters and his entourage.
Dr. Conrad Murray assured promoters Mr. Jackson was in perfect health when in fact he was dependent on nightly doses of a dangerous surgical anesthetic to sleep, witnesses said. Mr. Jackson's personal assistant told jurors that when the singer stopped breathing on June 25, 2009, Dr. Murray called him to say that he had had a "bad reaction." The assistant also said Dr. Murray did not ask him to call 911.
The witnesses on the second day of testimony offered glimpses into the doctor's behavior in the two months he injected Mr. Jackson with propofol night after night, and in the moments after he found the pop star unresponsive. Dr. Murray, 58, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison and would have to relinquish his medical license.
Prosecutors allege the doctor had his hefty paycheck, and not his patient's best interests, in mind.
While he was painting a rosy picture of Mr. Jackson's health, the doctor was focused on the lucrative terms under which he was to care for Mr. Jackson during his London tour, a witness said. Kathy Jorrie, an attorney for promoter AEG Live recounted how in the last days of Mr. Jackson's life, Dr. Murray repeatedly asked for revisions to his $150,000-a-month contract, including that he not be required to return any portion of his salary if Mr. Jackson were to change his mind or the tour were canceled.
Ms. Jorrie said she was gathering information for an insurance company to make sure Mr. Jackson was in good health and could be insured.
"Dr. Murray told me repeatedly that Michael Jackson was perfectly healthy, in excellent condition," she recalled.
Lawyer Kathy Jorrie, testifies that she drafted the contract for AEG Live 10 days before Jackson's death, and that the doctor called her twice asking for a "number of revisions", during Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial at the Los Angeles Superior Court on September 28, 2011 in downtown Los Angeles, California.
Getty Images Enlarge
In reality, prosecutors allege, Dr. Murray had been well aware of Mr. Jackson's drug-addled state as early as six weeks before his death. On Monday, they played a recording from the doctor's phone of the singer sounding drugged.
Paul Gongaware, co-chief executive officer of AEG Live, said he was completely unaware the doctor was giving Mr. Jackson propofol, the surgical anesthetic that ultimately killed him. On the surface, their relationship appeared caring and friendly, he said.
The misleading and deception continued in the moments when Dr. Murray apparently realized his famed patient had stopped breathing, the singer's personal assistant testified. The panicked first call Dr. Murray placed downplayed what was happening to Mr. Jackson, the assistant said in his testimony.
"When I heard 'bad reaction,' I didn't think anything fatal, personally, and I wasn't asked to call 911," Michael Amir Williams said. He later said: "If Dr. Murray, as Mr. Jackson's doctor, called me and told me to call 911, I would've done just that."
In cross-examination, Dr. Murray's attorney suggested it would not have been unusual per protocol for the doctor to first call the assistant rather than authorities.
"Would it be strange for Dr. Murray to call you in the event of an emergency at the house?" attorney Ed Chernoff asked.
"Yeah, if Mr. Jackson were dying it would, for me personally," Mr. Williams replied.
Mr. Jackson's head of security, Faheem Muhammad, testified he arrived at Mr. Jackson's bedroom to find Dr. Murray sweating and nervous, leaning over Mr. Jackson, trying to revive him. He said Mr. Jackson's two older children, Paris and Prince, were in shock, and Paris fell to the ground weeping.
Moments later, Mr. Muhammad said, Dr. Murray asked him and another security guard if either of them knew CPR.
He recalled his attempt to protect Mr. Jackson, on a stretcher, and his three children from being photographed as they left the house.
After Mr. Jackson arrived at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and was pronounced dead, Dr. Murray was preoccupied with getting back to the house to retrieve "some cream" he said "Michael wouldn't want to the world to know about," Mr. Williams testified.
Mr. Williams said he found the doctor's request to return to the house so odd, he lied to the doctor, telling him police had taken his keys. Dr. Murray's lawyer said Mr. Williams did not bring up the doctor's remarks about the cream until a police interview two months after Mr. Jackson died.
Prosecutors produced a surveillance video of Dr. Murray walking out of a hospital lobby, which Mr. Muhammad said showed what he had seen firsthand -- the doctor departing after the singer's security staff refused to drive him.
But on cross-examination, the defense produced a second surveillance video showing Dr. Murray half an hour later in another area of the hospital.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.