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Michael Jackson doctor collected drug vials before call to 911, witness tells authorities

March 22, 2010 |  8:03 pm

A security guard for Michael Jackson told Los Angeles police investigators that Dr. Conrad Murray collected vials of medicine from the singer's bedroom before the guard called 911 the day Jackson died, a source familiar with the case said Monday.

Documents obtained by the Associated Press on  Monday stated that Alberto Alvarez, Jackson’s logistics director, claimed that Murray had postponed calling 911 so he could collect the vials.

The source, however, presented a somewhat different account of Alvarez's narrative of the minutes before paramedics were called to Jackson's rented Holmby Hills mansion last year.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, said Murray collected the vials and an IV drip as he was performing CPR on Jackson. Alvarez told authorities that Murray put the items in a bag and asked the security guard to hold on to them. Moments later, Alvarez called 911, the source said.

Murray was charged in February with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson's death.

Murray's attorney, Edward Chernoff, said his client never tried to hide medications or anything else. He said Alvarez's claim was inconsistent with other statements the bodyguard had provided to police.

“Mr. Alvarez made this statement but he also made others statements," Chernoff said. "What he said is inconsistent with the physical evidence found at the scene  .… We just need to get everybody under oath and have a trial.”

Jackson had high levels of the powerful anesthetic propofol in his system when he died.

The 51-page coroner's report of Jackson's June 25 death suggests that to prove manslaughter, prosecutors, who worked closely with the office's medical investigators and experts in building a criminal case, will focus on Murray's use of the operating-room anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid.

The coroner's office previously had said Jackson died from "acute propofol intoxication" in combination with the use of sedatives. The report released Monday went further, describing the level of anesthetic as enough to render a patient unconscious for "major surgery."

Murray told investigators that Jackson, 50, was a chronic insomniac who had depended for years on propofol -- a white liquid the singer called "milk" -- to sleep, according to police affidavits filed in court. But an anesthesiologist consulted by the coroner's office wrote in the report that she knew of "no reports of its use for insomnia relief."

"The only reports of its use in homes are cases of fatal abuse . . . suicide, murder and accident," Dr. Selma Calmes wrote.

She added that because of the risk of respiratory or cardiac side effects, propofol should be administered only by anesthesiologists or others trained to recognize those complications. "Full patient monitoring is required any time propofol is given," she wrote.

The setup in Jackson's bedroom did not include proper monitoring or precise dosing equipment, and an oxygen tank at his bedside was empty, according to the report.

Murray pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges and has denied any wrongdoing.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Conrad Murray in court. Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times