Michael Jackson hearing: Dr. Conrad Murray withheld information about powerful drug, prosecutor says [Updated]
Michael Jackson’s personal physician caused the pop singer’s death by abandoning his patient, performing ineffective CPR, failing to call 911 in time, and hiding from paramedics and emergency room doctors that he had given Jackson a powerful anesthetic used in surgery, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren made the comments in opening statements for the doctor’s preliminary hearing, which will determine whether there is enough evidence for Murray to stand trial.
Dr. Conrad Murray stands accused of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson’s June 25, 2009 death.
Walgren outlined for Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor the time line of events that led up to Jackson’s death. He repeatedly emphasized that Jackson’s final rehearsal at Staples Center had been “energetic” and “fabulous.”
“Michael left the rehearsal very optimistic for the future,” he told the judge.
Sometime between 10:40 and 11 the next morning, Murray gave the singer a dose of propofol, a dangerous anesthetic normally used in surgery. He then made a phone call around 11:51 a.m. and about 10 minutes into the call he appeared to first realize there was something wrong with his patient, the prosecutor said.
Yet rather than calling 911, Murray’s next move was to call Jackson’s security personnel, most of whom weren’t at Jackson’s home, Walgren said.
When a security guard, Alberto Alvarez, walked over from the security trailer parked next to the home, he saw Murray performing CPR with one hand on Jackson on a soft bed, according to the prosecutor. The doctor then instructed Alvarez to help him collect medical paraphernalia and stuff it into a bag, and only then told Alvarez to call 911, he said.
The prosecutor said the physician waited a minimum of nine minutes, and possibly as many as 21 minutes, before the 911 call was made. When paramedics arrived, Murray made no mention of the propofol Jackson was given, Walgren said.
Coroners ruled that Jackson died from acute propofol intoxication. Walgren said prosecutors would call as witnesses medical experts to testify about Murray’s conduct.
“The court will learn that in the opinion of these medical experts, there were a number of actions displayed by Dr. Murray that showed an extreme deviation from standard medical care,” Walgren said.
The producer of Jackson’s planned 2009 tour, Kenneth Ortega, was called as the first witness.
Ed Chernoff, Murray’s defense attorney, declined to make an opening statement. The hearing is expected to last seven to eight days.
-- Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan
Photo: Michael Jackson's brother Jackie Jackson and mother, Katherine Jackson, arrive for the preliminary hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray at the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 4, 2011. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
[For the record, 12:17 p.m.: The caption with an earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Jackie Jackson as Jermaine. ]