LOS ANGELES (AP) — A bodyguard testified Wednesday that the doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death grabbed a handful of vials and ordered him to put them in a bag before telling him to call 911 during frantic efforts to revive the King of Pop.
Alberto Alvarez was the first security guard to reach the bedroom where prosecutors say Dr. Conrad Murray administered a fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol to Jackson on June 25, 2009.
He said he was frozen at the sight of Jackson on the bed with his eyes and mouth open. Prosecutors asked him to describe the actions of Murray.
“He just grabbed a handful of bottles, or vials, and he instructed me to put them in a bag,” the tearful Alvarez testified.
Murray also told him to place an intravenous bag into another sack. the bodyguard said.
“Is it true that 911 had not been called yet?” Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked.
“That’s true,” Alvarez replied.
The bodyguard said he asked Murray what had happened to Jackson, and the doctor replied, “‘He had a reaction, he had a bad reaction.’ That’s all he said.”
At one point Jackson’s children Paris and Prince walked into the room.
“Paris screamed, ‘Daddy!’ and she started to cry,” the witness said. “Dr. Murray said, ‘Get them out. Don’t let them see him like this.”‘
Alvarez’s voice choked as he described Paris crying and he took a moment to compose himself.
“I said, ‘Children, don’t worry, we’ll take care of this.’ And I escorted them out and left the door ajar,” Alvarez said.
After collecting everything and bagging it, Alvarez said Murray told him to call 911. The prosecutor then played a recording of the call.
When an operator said to transfer Jackson to the floor, Alvarez said, he grabbed Jackson’s legs and Murray grabbed his upper body. He said at that point he noticed an IV in Jackson’s leg and it had to be removed. Alvarez also noticed that Jackson had a urinary catheter.
Alvarez said Murray then asked him to give Jackson chest compression while Murray did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
“Did it appear he was breathing,” Walgren asked.
“No sir,” Alvarez said.
“His eyes and mouth were open?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” the witness said.
“Did he seem to be alive or dead?” Walgren asked.
“Dead, sir,” Alvarez said.
The testimony could provide key corroboration to the prosecutors’ argument that Murray’s actions demonstrated “an extreme deviation from the standard of care” by administering propofol without the proper equipment, and also concealing it and botching efforts to resuscitate the singer.
Walgren said Tuesday in his opening statement that Murray waited as long as 21 minutes before paramedics were called. Jackson died before help was summoned, the prosecutor said.
Murray was providing Jackson propofol roughly six times a week since being hired as the singer’s personal physician in May 2009, Walgren said.
Murray, a Houston cardiologist, has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys have contended he did not give Jackson anything that should have killed the singer.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, which was expected to go into next week, a judge will rule whether there is enough evidence for Murray to stand trial on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the pop star’s death. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
The hearing was expected to include testimony from police, coroner’s officials and forensic experts who will describe the mix of sedatives found in Jackson’s system.
Preliminary hearings have a lower burden of proof than trials, and defense attorneys rarely present a case. Murray’s attorney, Ed Chernoff, did not make an opening statement.