Conrad Murray trial: Michael Jackson's bodyguard, Alberto Alvarez, says doctor told him to grab vials
Michael Jackson's former bodyguard, Alberto Alvarez, who is said to be the first person to reach the singer's bedroom after Conrad Murray called for help, said the doctor ordered him to grab several medicine vials before instructing him to call 911.
Alvarez made his comments at Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial, which is on its third day. The phone conversation between Alvarez and an emergency services dispatcher was then played in court. He did not disclose Jackson's identity during the call (Listen to an audio recording of the 911 call here).
He also described how Jackson's daughter Paris "screamed out 'Daddy!'" as she and her older brother witnessed their father lying unresponsive as Murray administered CPR with one hand. NOTE: You can watch the proceedings online: OnTheRedCarpet.com is hosting a LIVE STREAM of the Conrad Murray trial.
Prosecutors have criticized Murray for not calling 911 right away. Alvarez said: "In my personal experience, I believed Dr. Murray had the best intentions for Mr. Jackson. I didn't question his authority."
Alvarez said that when he saw Jackson unreponsive, Murray "reached over and grabbed handful of vials."
"Then he reached out to me and said, 'Here, put these in a bag," he said. " I looked towards my right and there was a plastic bag sitting on the top of the chair so I proceeded to get the bag. I opened it and he placed the vials in the bag. He said to place that bag in a brown bag."
"He pointed towards the IV stand. He pointed to a bag and said 'Now grab that (saline) bag and put that in the blue bag,'" Alvarez said, adding that he complied.
"Then Dr. Murray instructed me to call 911," he later told Murray's lawyer.
Alvarez said he saw a "milky white substance" in the saline bag. Prosecutor David Walgren showed a saline bag and a 100 ml bottole of propofol. Alvarez said he recognized it as what he saw at the scene. Records show that Murray ordered more than 4 gallons of the anesthetic between April and June 2009.
Autopsy results have shown that the singer died at age 50 on June 25, 2009 at his Los Angeles from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, which he called his "milk," due to its white shade, and other sedatives. Murray, had said he gave Jackson a dose of propofol as a sleeping aid in his house on the day he died and has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Murray faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted. Murray's lawyers maintain that Jackson drank propofol on his own while the doctor was away from his bedside and that the dose Murray had administered was too low to be fatal.
Alvarez confirmed previous comments made by Jackson's assistant, Michael Amir Williams. He said that he had called the bodyguard on June 25, 2009, hours before the singer was pronounced dead at a Los Angeles hospital, and told him to go check on Jackson. Williams had said that Murray left him a voicemail with the same request.
Alvarez said he rushed inside Jackson's rented Los Angeles home. He said he saw on the ground floor the nanny of Jackson's three children, the singer's daughter and his personal chef, Kai Chase. Murray was on the landing of the second floor, Alvarez said.
He said he followed Murray into Jackson's bedroom and the doctor began administering CPR with his left hand. Jackson, Alvarez said, "was laying on his back with his hands extended out. I observed that his eyes were slightly open and his mouth was open."
"(Murray) said, 'Alberto, we have to hurry, we have to get him to a hospital, get him to an ambulance," Alvarez said. "I was walking towards the bed and I was reaching for my phone in my pocket and as I was doing that, (Jackson's son) Prince and Paris came behind me. Paris screamed out 'Daddy!'"
At this time, Alvarez did not yet call 911. Jackson's head was turned towards his daughter, Alvarez confirmed. Alvarez said: "I was just in the moment. I didn't think about ushering them out. I was thinking about the situation. I was concerned about Mr. Jackson at that time."
"Dr. Conrad Murray said, 'Don't let them see their dad like this," he added. "I proceeded to turn around to the children and kind of usher them out and said, 'Kids don't worry, we'll take care of it, everything is going to be okay.' I walked them out towards the landing area."
Alvarez said he then returned to the bedroom and asked Murray what had happened. He said the doctor told him: "He had a reaction, he had a bad reaction." Williams had said Murray used those words when he called the doctor after hearing a voicemail he had left minutes earlier, asking him to contact him. Alvarez said Murray told him to grab the vials and the saline bag.
He confirmed that Murray later told him to call 911 and he then did so. The call was made at 12:20 p.m. that day.
Prosecutors have said Murray's attempts to revive Jackson were flawed and that he did not use sufficient medical equipment while caring for him.
Alvarez said that while they waited for paramedics to arrive, he also performed CPR on Jackson, by request of Murray, and used both hands - which is the proper way. He said he learned the method when he was on a swim team. He said Murray also tried to revive Jackson by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, adding: "After a couple or a few breaths that he breathed into Mr. Jackson, (Murray) said: 'This is the first time I do mouth to mouth, but I have to - he's my friend."
Alvarez said they also moved Jackson from the bed to the floor and that Murray removed tubing from the singer's leg, which had been connected to an IV bag. He said the doctor then attached some sort of monitor to Jackson's finger. It was a pulse oximeter, used to monitor the oxygen saturation of a person's blood.
Alvarez said he also observed a condom catheter on Jackson's genitals. Such devices are used to collect urine when a person is unconscious or otherwise unable to urinate at will. Jackson also had an oxygen tube hooked up to his nose, Alvarez said.
In his cross-examination, Murray's lawyer, Ed Chernoff pointed out that illustrations that Alvarez drew of the saline bag that contained the propofol bottle during an August 2009 interview with police and during his preliminary hearing earlier this year appeared different - one picture showed the bag with tubing coming out of it, while the other appeared sealed, with a "nub." Alvarez said he did not recall creating the first drawing.
Chernoff also told him that in his preliminary hearing, he testified that a picture of a saline bag that was shown, which did not contain a white substance in it, was the bag Murray had asked him to remove.
Chernoff also noted that Alvarez talked to police on the day Jackson died and did not mention Murray's request to remove the vials and saline bag, or seeing the propofol bottle inside. He first noted these details in his August 2009 meeting with the police.
Alvarez said that a few days after Jackson's death, he saw a news report on CNN that showed detectives emerging from the singer's property. They had collected evidence, including a bag that resembled the one where Alvarez dropped the saline bag, and mentioned the agent used to put Jackson to sleep. They mentioned it was milky - just like propofol.
"When I saw that report, is when I realized that I had touched something that resembled that milky white substance so I felt that it was important for me to report that," Alvarez said. "That was the one that trigged me to ... relay this information to law enforcement."
He also added that he is currently struggling financially and is unable to get consistant work. He confirmed that before and after he talked to police in August 2009, he had received about 10 offers from media outlets to sell his story, including one worth $500,000. He said he declined them.
As he testified, Jackson's sister, La Toya, took notes, but his mother, Katherine, dozed off.
Kai Chase, Jackson's personal chef, and EMTs Richard Seneff and Martin Blount are also set to testify on Thursday.
On Tuesday, one of the prosecutors played to the jury a recording of a voice message by Jackson, found on Murray's iPhone, to demonstrate the effect propofol had on him as he prepared for his tour. The singer's voice is deeply slurred.
Williams said he had never heard Jackson sound like that before, adding: "Never heard in that extreme. It's kind of sad. That was pretty extreme."One of Murray's attorneys, Michael Flanagan, told OnTheRedCarpet.com on Wednesday that Jackson slurred his words because he "self-medicated" and that it occurred when Murray was not around.
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