LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson’s doctor asked a bodyguard to grab vials of medicine and a saline bag from the singer’s bedroom on the morning he died, a Los Angeles court heard on Thursday in the manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.
Bodyguard Alberto Alvarez also said he saw a “milky white substance” in the saline bag that Murray asked him to stash into a bag moments before an ambulance was called to attend to the lifeless singer.
“While I was standing at the foot of the bed he (Murray) reached over and grabbed a handful of vials and then he said ‘here put them in a bag’,” Alvarez testified on the third day of Murray’s trial on a charge of involuntary manslaughter for being responsible for the “Thriller” singer’s death.
Alvarez, testifying for the prosecution, said Murray then pointed toward an IV stand by Jackson’s bed and told him to grab one of the saline bags hanging there and take it away.
The bag had “what appeared to me like a milky white substance. I recall seeing it at the bottom of the (saline) bag,” Alvarez said.
Prosecutors say the milky substance was the surgical anesthetic propofol, which authorities have deemed to be the principal cause of Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009.
Murray admits giving Jackson propofol as a sleep aid but denies involuntary manslaughter. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
Alvarez was one of the first members of Jackson’s staff on the scene the day the 50-year-old pop star was discovered not breathing in his bedroom at his Los Angeles mansion.
“He was laying on his back, with his hands extended out ... his eyes were slightly open and his mouth was open,” Alvarez said. As he followed Murray into the bedroom, two of the singer’s children followed.
“Prince and Paris came behind me. Paris screamed out ‘Daddy!'”
Alvarez said Murray told him Jackson had a “bad reaction” and that he saw the doctor giving the singer chest compressions on the bed with one hand.
Alvarez said he noticed an IV stand, oxygen tubing around Jackson’s nose and a device attached to his penis that he later learned is used to collect urine while a person is sleeping. He saw no heart monitor, blood pressure monitor or other monitoring equipment.
It was only after the vials and the saline bag were placed in bags that Alvarez called for an ambulance, about one minute after first entering Jackson’s bedroom.
Asked why he complied with Murray’s request to remove the bag and vials of medicine, Alvarez told the court, “I believe that Dr. Murray had the best intentions for Mr. Jackson, so I didn’t question his authority at the time. I thought we were packing to get him ready to go to the hospital.”
Murray’s defense team has argued that Jackson gave himself sedatives and extra propofol when the doctor was out of the room, and that additional dose was what killed him.
Prosecutors say Murray failed to monitor Jackson properly and tried to hide evidence before and after his death as he was in rehearsals for a series of London comeback concerts.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Xavier Briand