Conrad Murray waged coverup of Jackson health, witnesses say
Michael Jackson’s personal physician waged a coverup regarding the singer’s health in the weeks leading up to, and the minutes following, his death, according to testimony on the second day of Dr. Conrad Murray's manslaughter trial.
Before the singer’s death, Murray assured concert promoters that Jackson was in perfect health when, in fact, he was dependent on nightly doses of a dangerous surgical anesthetic to sleep, witnesses said in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday.
And after Jackson stopped breathing, Murray told the singer's personal assistant Jackson had “a bad reaction” and never asked for 911 to be called, the assistant told jurors.
"Call me right away, please, call me right away, thank you," Murray said in the recording played during the testimony of the assistant, Michael Amir Williams.
When he called Murray back a couple of minutes later, the doctor said Jackson had a "bad reaction" and asked him to go to the house, Williams testified.
"No sir," he responded.
Williams testified that he called security personnel at the house and asked them to see what was going on.
By the time Williams arrived at the Holmby Hills mansion from his downtown L.A. apartment, Jackson was being brought out on a gurney, he said.
Murray seemed frantic, he recalled.
"I knew it was serious," Williams said.
After Jackson was pronounced dead, Murray asked Williams to drive him from the hospital back to the singer's mansion to retrieve something, Williams testified.
Murray said he needed to get "some cream that Michael wouldn't want the world to know about," Williams said.
Williams said he found the request so odd that he lied to the doctor, saying police had taken his car keys, and told a security guard of his plans to deceive Murray to avoid taking him back.
Williams then called security personnel at the home and told them not to allow anyone into the home, "just for the simple fact that Dr. Murray asked to go back," Williams testified.
Before Williams took the stand Wednesday morning, an attorney for the company producing Jackson's comeback shows testified that Murray had asked for a CPR machine and a second physician as part of his contract to care for the pop singer.
When AEG Live attorney Kathy Jorrie remarked that resuscitation equipment was already likely to be at the London venue where Jackson was to perform, Murray said he “wouldn’t want to take a chance,” she testified.
Murray said “he will be putting on an extraordinary performance,” she recalled. “Because of that, given his age and the strenuous performance he was putting on, he needed to be sure if something went wrong, he [would have] a CPR machine.”
He also said he needed a second doctor in case he was tired or unavailable, she testified.
When she asked for Murray’s help in collecting Jackson's medical records from the last five years for insurance purposes, Murray said he had been the singer’s personal physician for three years, but the volume of records would be “very tiny” because of how stellar the singer's health was, Jorrie testified.
Earlier, Jorrie said Murray called her twice as she drafted his $150,000-a-month contract with Jackson 10 days before Jackson died, asking for a "number of revisions."
Murray was to be paid retroactively beginning in May 2009 and through March 2010, Jorrie said.
Murray did not want to be required to refund any portion of his monthly payment if Jackson changed his mind or canceled the tour, she said.
During the contract negotiations and drafting, Murray repeatedly offered that Jackson was "perfectly healthy" and in "excellent condition," she testified.
Jorrie's testimony came after AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware testified that he was on the lookout for any drug use by Jackson because he was concerned about how it would affect the "This Is It" tour.
Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter and administering the fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic propofol that caused Jackson's death.
-- Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan at L.A. County Superior Court
Photo: Michael Jackson's father, Joe Jackson, right, arrives at court Wednesday. Credit: Jason Redmond / Associated Press