Paramedics, chef, guard testify next in trial of Michael Jackson's doctor
By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 5:32 AM EST, Thu September 29, 2011
Los Angeles (CNN) -- Two paramedics who responded to a delayed call for help at Michael Jackson's house, the singer's chef and his head of security are lined up to testify for the prosecution Thursday in the trial of Jackson's doctor.
Lawyers for Dr. Conrad Murray must counter descriptions of their client as a cardiologist who couldn't perform basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques and someone who was more concerned with hiding evidence than saving his patient.
Thursday is the third day of testimony in Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial in connection with Jackson's June 25, 2009 death.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren blamed Murray for Jackson's death, saying he abandoned "all principles of medical care" when he used the surgical anesthetic propofol to put Jackson to sleep every night for more than two months.
The coroner ruled that Jackson's death was the result of "acute propofol intoxication" in combination with sedatives.
Defense lawyer Ed Chernoff contended that Jackson, desperate for sleep, caused his own death by taking a handful of sedatives and self-administering propofol while the doctor was out of the room.
One defense strategy is to point the finger at another doctor and Jackson as having a large role in his death, while arguing Murray was blind to what they were doing.
Michael Jackson slurred his speech after visits to Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein, trips that became "very regular" for the pop star in the weeks before his death, Jackson's personal assistant testified Wednesday.
Murray's lawyers contend that Klein addicted the singer to Demerol during those visits, something Murray did not know about.
His withdrawal from that Demerol addiction was what kept Jackson awake despite Murray's efforts to put him to sleep with sedatives the morning he died, the defense contends, arguing that Klein is at least partly responsible for Jackson's death because of the Demerol.
When Michael Amir Williams, who was Jackson's personal assistant, testified Wednesday, Chernoff asked if he went to Klein's office with Jackson.
"At a certain point, it was very regular," Williams said.
Chernoff then asked Williams whether he'd ever heard Jackson talk slowly with slurred speech, as he did on an audio recording played in court Tuesday.
"Not that extreme, but I have heard him talk slow before," Williams said.
"And when he left Dr. Klein's office, have you observed him sometimes to talk slow?" Chernoff asked.
Sometimes, Williams replied, "he would talk slow like that. I never heard it that extreme, but I can definitely say he has come out, and he's a little slower."
Jackson security guard Faheem Muhammad, who often drove Jackson, followed Williams on the witness stand Wednesday afternoon.
"There were times he would go almost every day" to Klein's office, and Jackson often appear intoxicated when he left, Muhammad testified.
Jackson once told Muhammad that his frequent trips to the dermatologist were for treatment for a skin disease.
"My doctors tell me that I have to go, so I go," Muhammad said Jackson told him.
At the start of court proceedings Wednesday, Paul Gongaware, an executive with the company promoting Jackson's comeback concerts, said he noticed that Jackson had "a little bit of a slower speech pattern, just a slight slur in the speech" after a visit with Klein.
Medical records show that Klein gave Jackson numerous shots of Demerol in the weeks before his death, Chernoff told jurors Tuesday.
"Dr. Klein did not do anything that was medically inappropriate," Klein's lawyer, Garo Ghazarian, told HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" Wednesday.
The last time Klein gave Jackson drugs was more than three days before his death, Ghazarian said.
Jackson's inability to sleep the morning he died was "one of the insidious effects" of Demerol addiction withdrawal, Chernoff said. Since Murray did not know about the Demerol, he could not understand why Jackson was unable to fall asleep that morning, Chernoff said.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor previously ruled that while the jury can see some of the records of Klein's treatment of Jackson, the doctor would not testify. Demerol was not found in Jackson's body during the autopsy, which makes Klein's testimony irrelevant, Pastor ruled.
Testimony from Williams and Muhammad included emotional details about the chaos in the Jackson home and at the hospital the day Jackson died.
Williams described Wednesday as a frantic series of phone calls that started at 12:13 p.m. June 25, 2009, the day the pop icon died.
"Call me right away, please, call me right away," Murray said in a voice message to Williams, which prosecutors played in court Wednesday.
"Get here right away; Mr. Jackson had a bad reaction," Williams said Murray told him when he called him back.
Williams then ordered a security guard to rush to the upstairs bedroom where Murray was working to resuscitate Jackson.
Muhammad, one of those ordered upstairs, described seeing Jackson on a bed with his eyes open and his mouth "slightly opened" as Murray tried to revive him.
"Did he appear to be dead?" Walgren asked.
"Yes," Muhammad replied.
Jackson's two oldest children were standing just outside the room, watching in shock, Muhammad said.
"Paris was on the ground, balled up, crying. And Prince, he was standing there, he just had a real shocked, you know, slowly crying, type of shocked look on his face," he said.
His description of Murray's efforts to revive Jackson raised questions about Murray's knowledge of how to perform CPR.
It was several minutes before Alberto Alvarez, the head of security set to testify Thursday, called for an ambulance.
Williams and Muhammad later rode with Jackson's three children to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, following the ambulance that carried their father.
Jackson family members slowly arrived at the emergency room and joined the children, who were kept in a private room with their nanny while doctors tried to revive their father, Williams said.
"Dr. Murray and the doctors walked out, and they closed the curtain and said, 'He's dead,'" he testified.
Williams described what he called an odd request by Murray at the hospital for a ride back to Jackson's home after he was pronounced dead.
Murray told Williams he needed to go back to retrieve "some cream" from Michael's bedroom that Jackson "wouldn't want the world to know about."
The prosecution contends that Murray wanted to retrieve evidence of his medical misconduct that led to Jackson's death.
A lawyer hired by concert promoter AEG to draw up the contract with Murray testified that Murray requested a CPR machine and money to hire a second doctor to help him care for Jackson.
The additional doctor and the CPR equipment were never provided, since the contract was not signed before Jackson died, attorney Kathy Jorrie testified.
She told the court that it was her understanding that Murray did not want the CPR unit or the additional doctor until he arrived in London with Jackson in July 2009 for the "This Is It" concerts.
"I asked Dr Murray, why do we need a CPR machine?" Jorrie testified.
Murray told her he needed it since "given (Jackson's) age and the strenuous performance he would be putting on, that if something went wrong, he would have it," she said.
The second doctor would be necessary because "if (Murray) was tired or unavailable, he wanted to make sure there was someone else to be of assistance" to Jackson.
AEG is being sued by Jackson's mother, Katherine, based on her contention that the concert promoter hired and controlled Murray when he was caring for her son.
The prosecution contends that part of the negligence that makes Murray criminally liable for Jackson's death is the lack of monitoring and CPR equipment on hand when Jackson died.
The trial began Tuesday with prosecutors playing a stunning audio recording of an apparently drugged Jackson slurring his words weeks before his death. Prosecutors also showed jurors a photo of Jackson's corpse on a hospital gurney.
If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Murray could spend four years in a California prison and lose his medical license.