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Michael Jackson hearing: Conrad Murray texted, used cellphone when he should have been monitoring pop star, prosecutors say

January 6, 2011 |  1:08 pm

Dr. Conrad Murray was talking on the phone and texting during the period authorities say he should have been closely monitoring Michael Jackson’s vital signs, according to records prosecutors displayed in court Thursday.

In the approximately five hours before Murray discovered that his famous patient had stopped breathing, he had 11 phone conversations on two different phones. A trio of back-to-back calls lasting 45 minutes led directly to the moment when prosecutors say the physician realized Jackson was in cardiac arrest.

The records were presented on the third day of a Superior Court hearing to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to try Murray for involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s June 25, 2009 death.

Prosecutors have accused him of an “extreme deviation” from the standard of medical care by, among other things, administering the surgical anesthetic propofol without proper monitoring. There are no witnesses to the treatment Murray provided Jackson nightly because the singer did not permit employees upstairs in his mansion, but a prosecutor said in his opening statement that the phone records are circumstantial evidence that he was distracted and not paying attention to the singer.

According to testimony from a phone company representative, Murray sent or received five text messages on his iPhone in this period. His phone conversations on that phone and a Sprint cellphone included calls with his practice in Las Vegas, a clinic he runs in Houston, an employee and another doctor. All told, he spent close to an hour and a half on the phone in the five-hour period.

The records also show the frantic call Murray, 57, placed to Jackson’s personal assistant after he found the performer lifeless in the bed and a two-minute call with his girlfriend, Nicole Alvarez, apparently made while Murray was riding in the back of an ambulance with his patient.

He also sent two text messages just within a minute or two of the time when prosecutors believe he saw Jackson was stricken. Harry Daliwal, an AT&T area manager, testified that it is possible to recover the contents of text messages, but that he does not know how to do so.


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-- Harriet Ryan