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Conrad Murray trial jurors hear security guard's 911 call

A witness testified that Michael Jackson's daughter screamed out "Daddy" as attempts were made to revive the pop star.

September 29, 2011|By Harriet Ryan | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court during his trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court during his trial in the death of pop star Michael… (Reuters )

Jurors at the trial of Michael Jackson's personal physician heard a 911 call Thursday that prosecutors allege was delayed by nearly half an hour by the doctor's attempts at a cover-up.

"I need an ambulance as soon as possible," a Jackson security guard, Alberto Alvarez, told an emergency operator in the recording played at Dr. Conrad Murray's manslaughter trial.

Alvarez, who took the stand for prosecutors Thursday, told the operator a 50-year-old man had stopped breathing.

Full coverage of Conrad Murray's trial

"We have a personal doctor here with him," Alvarez said, prompting the operator to ask whether the doctor knew what happened.

The security guard relayed the question to Murray, who responded by yelling for paramedics to hurry.

"He's not responding to anything, sir," Alvarez added.

The tape came in the middle of Alvarez's testimony, the most damning yet against the 58-year-old physician.

Murray looked stricken at the defense table as the security guard recounted the chaotic moments before he placed the call, a period in which the guard described the doctor as behaving with incompetence and later with what prosecutors contend was clear consciousness of guilt.

Alvarez, who carried the title of head of logistics, said that when he arrived at the star's bedroom, Murray was making a haphazard attempt at CPR.

Jackson was on a soft surface -- his mattress -- and Murray was using one hand and doing so only intermittently, he said.

At one point, he said, the cardiologist asked, "Does anybody know CPR?"

Alvarez said Murray told him the singer had "a bad reaction" and needed to get to a hospital.

But he followed those statements with instructions to gather up medical vials and pill bottles from the singer's bedside, saying, "Here, put these in a bag."

The doctor then asked him to remove an IV bag containing "a milky white substance" -- a description consistent with the surgical anesthetic propofol.

Only then did Murray ask him to call 911, he said.

Investigators later found bags Alvarez described in a cabinet in another bedroom in the house. They contained sedatives, 10 bottles of propofol and an IV bag which held an 11th, empty bottle of the anesthetic.

Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren displayed the IV bag, covered in fingerprint dust, and the propofol bottle for jurors.

Jackson died June 25, 2009, with a lethal amount of the anesthetic in his system.

Under questioning by prosecutors, the security guard said he never questioned Murray's actions because he believed the doctor "had the best intentions" and was packing for the hospital.

A burly man with a black brush cut and a serious demeanor, Alvarez choked up as he recalled how Jackson's two older children had witnessed the attempts to revive their father.

"Paris screamed out, 'Daddy,' " Alvarez said, his eyes wet. He said he ushered her and her brotherPrince out of the room with assurances that "everything will be OK."

Alvarez grew emotional again when the prosecutor asked whether anything positive had come out of his experiences the day Jackson died. No, he said, mentioning financial problems.

"I went from a great salary to hardly anything," he said.

Media outlets had offered him up to half a million dollars for interview, but despite having only sporadic work, he testified, "I said no."

On cross-examination, Alvarez acknowledged he was in a state of shock seeing his employer lifeless.

"Is it possible that you are confused about the timing of these events?" defense attorney Ed Chernoff asked.

"No, sir," Alvarez said.

Murray faces the probable loss of his medical license and a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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