ONE of Michael Jackson’s bodyguards tearfully told a Los Angeles court that he saw the singer’s doctor grab a handful of medical vials and hide them in a bag in the minutes after his patient had stopped breathing.
Prosecutors who accuse Conrad Murray, Jackson’s physician, of involuntary manslaughter, claim that there was an attempt to cover up the star’s unique health regime.
Janet Jackson and the late singer’s two other sisters, LaToya and Rebe, joined his brother Randy and their parents in court as Alberto Alvarez, the first member of Jackson’s security team on the scene, described the incident on June 25, 2009.
The bodyguard said that Dr Murray had told him to collect equipment believed to include syringes, bottles and an intravenous delivery bag. “He grabbed a handful of bottles, or vials, and instructed me to put them in a bag,” he said.
The medical paraphernalia would have told the story of how Dr Murray helped his client to drift out of consciousness with propofol, a powerful anaesthetic.
David Walgren, a deputy district attorney, accused Dr Murray of delaying a call to emergency services to sanitise the scene. He said he failed to disclose treatment to paramedics, doctors at the UCLA medical centre and the police, during two days in which he did not return calls.
“Not a word was said about propofol,” Mr Walgren said, as he outlined a case that he claimed would prove Dr Murray should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter. Dr Murray, 57, has denied the charges, although he admitted treating Jackson with propofol. A post-mortem report found that he had died from an overdose of the general anaesthetic.
If he is convicted, he could lose his licence and face a jail sentence of up to four years. The doctor’s legal team have opted not to present their case in the preliminary hearing, which is due to end next week. Ed Chernoff, his lawyer, said that Dr Murray did not administer anything that “should have” killed the singer.
The defence is expected to raise the possibility that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose. The prosecution has tried to suggest that Dr Murray, who was reportedly paid 100,000 pounds a month by concert promoters, was under pressure to ensure that Jackson could perform at his residency in London.