A paramedic testified Thursday that he saw the doctor charged in the death of Michael Jackson grab three bottles of painkillers and place the vials in a bag during futile efforts to revive the pop star at his mansion.
Paramedic Martin Blount said he was surprised to see the bottles because defendant Dr. Conrad Murray had told paramedics he hadn’t given Jackson any drugs.
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“I saw three small bottles of lidocaine,” Blount testified. “He scooped them off the floor and put them into a black bag.”
Murray also produced a hypodermic needle at one point and wanted to use it on the singer, but Blount and other paramedics refused, according to the testimony. Blount described Murray as frantic and sweating profusely at the time.
The paramedic was the seventh witness called at a preliminary hearing after which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for Murray to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter. The Houston-based cardiologist has pleaded not guilty.
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Authorities contend Murray gave Jackson a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion before he died on June 25, 2009. Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said in his opening statement that Jackson was already dead when Murray summoned help and tried to conceal his administering of propofol to the pop star.
Prosecutors also introduced Murray’s cell phone records as evidence, showing he made several calls in the hours before Jackson died. The longest call of 32 minutes was to the cardiologist’s medical office in Houston.
It ended at 11:50 a.m., and Murray made two other calls before frantically calling Jackson’s personal assistant at 12:12 p.m., the records show. The assistant, Michael Amir Williams, previously testified that he missed the call but reached Murray three minutes later. Records show the men spoke for three minutes. A 911 call summoning paramedics was made at 12:21 p.m.
Murray also made a phone call in the ambulance as Jackson was being transported to UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, according to testimony by Blount and another paramedic, Richard Senneff. That two-minute call was to Murray’s girlfriend, Nicole Alvarez, who might testify in the case on Friday.
Blount testified that he thinks Jackson may have been dead for at least 20 minutes before he and other emergency personnel arrived. Murray’s defense attorney, Joseph Low IV, did not ask Blount about the bottles on cross-examination.
Blount said Murray told paramedics that Jackson had passed out about a minute before 911 was called. However, Senneff, who was Blount’s partner, previously testified that Jackson’s hands and feet were turning blue by the time he arrived.
Senneff testified Wednesday that Murray never mentioned that he had given Jackson propofol, and that he saw no signs in the room of propofol or other sedatives that were later found in Jackson’s body. Walgren described Murray’s actions as “an extreme deviation from the standard of care.”
Murray could face four years in prison if tried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter. His attorneys say Murray did not give Jackson anything that should have killed him.
Senneff’s testimony came after one of Jackson’s former bodyguards, Alberto Alvarez, testified that Murray told him to place medicine vials and an IV bag in other bags before calling 911. Alvarez was the only other person in the room with Murray while initial efforts were being made to revive Jackson.
“I said, ‘Dr. Murray, what happened?’ And he said, ‘He had a reaction. He had a bad reaction,'” Alvarez testified.
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this story.
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