YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Michael Jackson-AEG trail witness: Murray asked for back-up physician

August 06, 2013|By Kate Mather
  • Dr. Conrad Murray during his involuntary manslaughter trial.
Dr. Conrad Murray during his involuntary manslaughter trial. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

The attorney hired by AEG to draft Conrad Murray’s contract for Michael Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” tour testified Thursday that the the doctor had requested a CPR machine and a back-up physician.

Kathy Jorrie, an outside attorney who has long worked for AEG, said when she began the negotiations in June 2009, tour accountant Timm Woolley told her Murray was the singer’s personal physician and would provide general medical services during the 50-show London tour.

During questioning by AEG attorney Jessica Stebbins-Bina, Jorrie said she spoke to Murray twice on the phone during the negotiation process, which produced three drafts of the contract the doctor ultimately signed.

The central question in the wrongful death case filed by Jackson's mother and three children is who hired Murray. Katherine Jackson and her grandchildren allege AEG negligently hired and controlled the doctor, who gave the singer a fatal dose of propofol two weeks before his comeback tour was set to open.

AEG alleges it was Jackson who hired Murray, and any money that was supposed to be paid to the doctor was actually part of an advance to the singer.

Murray is now serving jail time after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.

Jorrie said she first spoke to Murray on the phone on June 18, after he reviewed an initial draft of the contract. He asked that his company's name be added to the contract and that a provision allowing him to hire a nurse as an assistant be changed to a "qualified assistant medical person."

"I had asked him, 'Why would you need another physician as opposed to a nurse?'" Jorrie testified. "And he told me that in an event that he was not available or he was tired, he wanted the flexibility" to have a back-up.

Murray asked that he be responsible for hiring the additional doctor, but did not provide a name, Jorrie said. The attorney testified that she ultimately agreed to the change.

Murray also requested that should his contract be terminated early, he would not be required to refund his $150,000-per-month payment. Jorrie said Murray told her that his medical practices brought in "a million dollars a month" and because he was leaving those practices for the tour, "it'd be fair and appropriate" that he keep the full payment he had received.

Jorrie said she also spoke to Murray about his request for medical equipment. Woolley had provided her a list of items the doctor might ask for, she testified, and she wanted to know why a "CPR machine" was on the list.

"He said he needed it in London during the performance, Michael Jackson puts on a strenuous performance and that he did not want to take a chance," she said. "That should anything go wrong, should there be an emergency, etc., he wanted to have that."

When she asked if having a machine available at the O2 Arena would suffice, she said Murray said no.

"He said they would" have the machine, she said, "but that he didn't want to take a chance."

After speaking to the doctor, Jorrie said she searched online to confirm some of his background. She verified his company was based in Nevada and that he had medical licenses in four states.

She also "Googled him," she said. "I Google everybody."

Jorrie said she attempted to email the revised contract to Murray, but the email bounced back. She then sent it to Woolley, who forwarded it to the doctor.

Murray called June 23 with additional changes that involved when his payments would begin and extending the time of his services from September 2009 to March 2010. Murray told her Jackson had agreed to pay his monthly salary for that extended time frame, she said.

Jorrie said she sent Murray another draft based on the changes. The next day, she testified, she received a copy of the agreement via fax that had been signed by Murray.

The attorney testified that she never directly communicated with Jackson or sent the singer or his representatives any versions of the contract, though there was a space set aside for the pop star's signature. The empty line on the contract shown to jurors Tuesday was dated June 24, which is when Jorie said she expected the parties involved to sign the final agreement.

Jackson died the next day.


Venice crash: Colorado man pleads not guilty

California Amber Alert blares in unexpected places

Venice crash: Italian newlywed's family issues statement of thanks

Twitter: @katemather | Google+

Los Angeles Times Articles