Michael Jackson hearing: Doctor's private life in the spotlight
Prosecutors put a spotlight on Dr. Conrad Murray’s complicated personal life Friday, summoning to the witness stand three mistresses –- two former and one current -- as they continued laying out evidence against the doctor in Michael Jackson’s death.
Only one of the women, the doctor’s current girlfriend, testified at length about him. But their testimony suggested that prosecutors may try link the financial costs of Murray’s romantic life with his desire to keep the $150,000-a-month job with the singer.
“When you began an intimate relationship with Dr Murray … were you aware he had six other children?” Deputy Dist. Atty. Deborah Brazil asked Nicole Alvarez, the mother of his toddler son.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to try Murray for involuntary manslaughter, said the question was irrelevant and ordered Alvarez not to answer.
Murray, 57, is married to a medical-school classmate but has fathered children with several other women, including Alvarez, the mother of his 20-month-old son.
Murray was simultaneously dating another woman, Houston cocktail waitress Sade Anding, and it was her testimony that bore most directly on Jackson’s death. She was on the phone with Murray around the time the doctor found the singer stricken in bed. She said he abruptly stopped responding to her comments.
“I just remember saying, ‘Hello, hello, hello! Are you there? Are you there,’” Anding recalled. She said she heard “a commotion, as if the phone was in a pocket or something,” followed by coughing and a “mumbling of voices” that she did not recognize.
Jackson died June 25, 2009 after going into cardiac arrest in a bedroom of his rented Holmby Hills home. The coroner determined that he died from a combination of the surgical anesthetic propofol and several sedatives.
Phone records indicate that Murray made 11 calls during the time that authorities say he should have been closely monitoring Jackson.
Bridgette Morgan, another former girlfriend, testified briefly that she had phoned Murray about a half-hour before Jackson stopped breathing, but did not reach him.
The most extensive testimony came from Alvarez, a 29-year-old actress who met Murray in 2005 when he was a customer at a Las Vegas “gentlemen’s club” where she worked.
Asked by Brazil asked if she knew the doctor, who lived in Las Vegas with his wife and children, was married when they met, she said she couldn’t remember. Later in her testimony, however, she said that Murray’s permanent residence was “in Las Vegas with his wife.”
She gave birth to their son in March 2009 and said she was planning to take the baby to London with Murray for Jackson’s planned concert stand at the O2 Arena.
Brazil produced packing slips showing six deliveries from a Las Vegas pharmacy -– the pharmacy from which Murray ordered propofol -- to the apartment where she lived and Murray paid the rent. She said Murray told her he was having packages shipped to the apartment, but she never opened the boxes or looked closely at the return address.
Alvarez said that she knew Murray left her apartment each night to treat Jackson, but that the physician told her “absolutely nothing” about those treatments.
“Dr. Murray and I were on a need-to-know basis. He’s a professional man and I know my position and my place in his life and it is not my duty to know” the details of his medical practice, she said.
Alvarez was a prickly and at times hostile witness for the prosecution, asking Brazil to repeat questions so often that the judge admonished her to pay better attention.
When the prosecutor asked about her expectations of Murray’s schedule while he was treating Jackson, she replied testily, “To begin with, I don’t have expectations of Dr. Murray, so I wouldn’t expect anything … that’s just a rule I live by.”
-- Harriet Ryan
Photo: Conrad Murray during earlier court hearing in 2010. Credit: Los Angeles Times