Jackson doctor’s girlfriend talks calls, shipments
LOS ANGELES — 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.
Prosecutors also asked Alvarez, 29, about shipments that Murray had sent to her Santa Monica, Calif. apartment. She admitted receiving the items, but never opening them. Authorities contend the shipments contained the anesthetic propofol, which Murray was giving to Jackson as a sleep aid.
Authorities accuse the Houston-based cardiologist of giving Jackson a lethal dose of propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of the singer’s rented mansion. Murray’s attorneys claim Jackson took the fatal dose himself.
In opening statements, a prosecutor said Murray had received more than four gallons of propofol while working with Jackson.
Murray has pleaded not guilty.
The doctor told police after Jackson’s death that he was giving the singer propofol as a sleep aid.
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.
For two days, prosecutors kept 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.
With Alvarez and another witness, pharmacy owner Tim Lopez, the case shifted its focus to propofol.
Lopez told jurors Murray first contacted him about obtaining a skin lightening cream used to treat vitiligo, a pigment condition Jackson had, but that by early 2009 he was inquiring about propofol.
Earlier Tuesday, a woman who was speaking on the phone with Murray on the day the singer died said the call was interrupted and the physician was no longer paying attention to her.
Sade Anding said she heard voices, coughing and mumbling on Murray’s end of the line. She told jurors that it sounded like his cell phone was in his pocket. Anding said Murray called her at 11:51 a.m. on June 25, 2009. About five or six minutes into their call is when she noticed Murray was no longer paying attention.
“There was a pause,” Anding said. “That’s when I realized he was no longer on the phone.”
“I heard mumbling of voices, it sounded like the phone was in his pocket,” she said. “I heard coughing, and nobody answered.”
With the exception of Alvarez, witnesses who testified about the phone calls Murray made have been relatively brief, but have filled in the government’s timeline of Murray’s actions in the hours leading up to Jackson’s death.
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.
— Associated Press