Jackson doctor’s girlfriend called to testify

Prosecutors on Tuesday called the girlfriend of the doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death to detail the physician’s busy schedule on the day the singer died and her own interactions with the late king of pop.

Nicole Alvarez told jurors during the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr Conrad Murray that the doctor had first told her that he was Jackson’s personal physician for a year before the singer’s June 2009 death.

Alvarez beamed as she described meeting Jackson for the first time in Las Vegas, where Murray maintains a medical practice.

“I was speechless,” Alvarez said. “I couldn’t believe I was meeting Michael Jackson.”

Alvarez said she and Murray met Jackson several other times, including after the birth of the couple’s young son.

Alvarez said after April 2009, Murray would frequently leave her apartment at night and return early the next day. She said she knew Murray was working as Jackson’s personal doctor while the singer prepared for a series of comeback concerts.

Phone records displayed in court Monday showed Murray called Alvarez four times the afternoon of Jacksons’ death in 2009, including once while he was in the ambulance with Jackson’s lifeless body on the way to the hospital.

Murray has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors are keeping jurors focused on the doctor’s phone records from the day Jackson died, attempting to show that Murray was trying to juggle his medical practice, personal life and superstar patient all at the same time.

Not guilty
Authorities contend he gave the singer a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives. Murray’s attorneys claim Jackson gave himself the fatal dose. If convicted, Murray faces four years behind bars and the loss of his medical license.

Testimony Monday was heavily centered on the calls Murray made and received on the day Jackson died, with witnesses ranging from the Houston-based cardiologist’s patients, a doctor seeking advice and a woman who had dated Murray.

To this point, witnesses have been relatively brief, filling in prosecutors’ timeline of the hours leading up to Jackson’s death. Two people who phoned Murray that morning offered glowing appraisals of Murray.

The phone records have revealed the special relationship Murray kept with his patients.

Houston-based Dr Joanne Prashad told jurors she called Murray the morning of Jackson’s death to inquire whether it would be safe to operate on a patient whom Murray had treated. Prashad said she was surprised that Murray remembered the patient and the exact dosage of medicine that he was taking.

Murray’s lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff asked Prashad whether Murray’s recall was unusual for a doctor.

She said yes. “I was impressed,” Prashad said.

The records overall reveal a doctor who was on his phone a lot in the hours before Jackson’s death.

Another former patient, Robert Russell, testified that the doctor had returned a phone message to him at 11.49am — just 15 minutes or so before he emerged from Jackson’s bedroom frantically seeking help.

He had been on the phone with his medical practice for 32 minutes before that, and was also sending emails about his $150 000 a month contract to serve as Jackson’s personal physician during the comeback tour.

Five of the eight witnesses called Monday testified about Murray’s phone records. Jurors also heard from two emergency room doctors who interacted with Murray after Jackson was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Both doctors said Murray never mentioned giving Jackson propofol. Cardiologist Dr Thao Nguyen said Murray didn’t provide much information about his treatment of Jackson, but urged doctors to try everything they could to revive him.

“Dr Murray asked that we not give up easily and try to save Michael Jackson’s life,” she said. “… In Dr. Murray’s mind, if we called it quits, we would be giving up easily.”

In the end, Nguyen and colleague Dr. Richelle Cooper told jurors, Jackson was dead by the time he arrived in the emergency room and nothing more could have been done. — Sapa-AP

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