The preliminary hearing to determine whether Michael Jackson doctor Conrad Murray should be tried for involuntary manslaughter began Tuesday. Jackson’s parents and several of his siblings have attended the court proceedings. Reports leading up to the media spectacle said some 30 witnesses would be called to the stand.
Kenny Ortega, “This Is It” choreographer Ortega, the first witness to take the stand, testified Tuesday. Ortega, who appears in Jackson’s posthumous documentary, “This Is It,” said just a week before the scheduled start of the London tour that the singer arrived to rehearsal not well enough to perform, the Los Angeles Times reported. Ortega said he expressed his concerns to Dr. Murray the following day at a meeting at Jackson’s home but was dismissed. “Dr. Murray told me that this was not my responsibility and asked me to not act like a doctor or psychologist … and leave Michael’s health to him,” Ortega said.
Michael Amir Williams, Jackson’s assistant Williams said, on the day of Jackson’s death, Murray called him in a panic, saying Jackson had experienced a “bad reaction.” After Jackson had been pronounced dead at the hospital, Williams claimed Murray suggested returning to Jackson’s house to retrieve a cream. “He said, ‘Brother Michael, Mr. Jackson has some cream in the house that I knew he wouldn’t want the world to know about,'” Williams said, recalling his conversation with Murray, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Faheem Muhammad, security guard Muhammad testified that he saw Jackson lying in bed with his eyes and mouth open, according to the Los Angeles Times. He said Murray asked whether “anyone in the room knew CPR.” Muhammad said he left the room to tend to Jackson’s children, Paris and Prince, who were in the hallway.
Kai Chase, Jackson’s cook Chase testified that Murray panicked after Jackson stopped breathing. She said Murray came downstairs to get Prince. Chase said to him that “something may be wrong with your dad,” TMZ reported.
She added that the commotion prompted the housekeepers to start crying. She said Jackson had a healthy diet and had eaten a seared ahi tuna salad lunch the day before his death.
Alberto Alvarez, Jackson’s security guard On Wednesday, Alvarez testified that Murray told him Jackson had had a “bad reaction.” He added that Murray instructed him to pack up various medications. “He then grabbed a handful of bottles or vials and instructed me to put them in a bag,” Alvarez said about Murray.
Richard Senneff, paramedic Senneff, who has worked for the Los Angeles Fire Department for 25 years, said he thought Jackson had been dead for more than 20 minutes when he arrived to the scene. Senneff said Jackson’s pupils were dilated, his eyes were dry, and his skin was cold. Though Murray told him that Jackson had just stopped breathing, Senneff felt suspicious. “All I can tell you is my gut feeling at the time was this did not just happen: it (had) been a period of time,” Senneff said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Martin Blount, paramedic Blount testified that Murray said he had not given Jackson any medications however, he saw the physician pick up three vials of a painkiller, the Associated Press reported. “I saw three small bottles of lidocaine,” Blount said. “He scooped them off the floor and put them into a black bag.”
Dr. Richelle Cooper, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center emergency room doctor Cooper gave the paramedics the authority to pronounce Jackson dead at the scene, but Murray asked them not to do so, TMZ reported. After Jackson arrived at the hospital, doctors attempted to revive him for more than an hour. Cooper said Murray did not tell her that he had given Jackson propofol or other sedatives later revealed in autopsy tests. She said the combination of drugs could have caused Jackson to stop breathing. “I would be more concerned, particularly, if there were other medications given that would lead to a respiratory arrest, which would lead to a cardiac arrest,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
Dr. Thao Nguyen, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center doctor Thao said Murray admitted to giving Jackson lorazepam but denied giving the singer any other medication.
Sade Anding, Murray’s former girlfriend Anding testified Friday that she didn’t speak to Murray much when he called her at 11:51 a.m. on the day of Jackson’s death. While she was on the phone for reportedly five to six minutes, Murray was not speaking to her for part of the time, the Associated Press reported. “I heard commotion as if the phone was in a pocket or something,” Anding said. Murray never returned to the phone.
Nicole Alvarez, Murray’s current girlfriend Alvarez acknowledged receiving packages Murray shipped to her from a pharmacy in Las Vegas but said she was unaware of the contents. According to phone records, Murray called Alvarez while in the ambulance that took Jackson to the hospital.
Bridgette Morgan, Murray’s former girlfriend Morgan testified that she was unable to reach Murray when she called him 30 minutes before Jackson stopped breathing, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Elissa Fleak, coroner Fleak said she found 12 bottles of propofol in Jackson’s home, the Associated Press reported. Other medications found included six vials of painkillers lidocaine as well as syringes.
The preliminary hearing is expected to last another week.