Published October 04, 2011
Dr. Conrad Murray's complicated love life became entangled with the life and death of his patient Michael Jackson, prosecutors suggested Tuesday as they called a parade of women witnesses who received phone calls from the doctor as Jackson was near death.
The evidence was designed to show that the doctor was trying to juggle his medical practice, personal life and superstar patient all at the same time and was so distracted he failed to give Jackson proper care.
Murray's phone records from the day Jackson died were displayed in court as a backdrop for testimony of those at the other end of the cell phone calls. Three of them were current and former girlfriends and one was the manager of Murray's Houston office.
Nicole Alvarez, who lives with Murray and is the mother of his small son, was a key witness. She said she received a phone call from Murray as he rode in an ambulance beside Jackson's lifeless body on June 25, 2009.
"I remember him telling me that he was on the way to the hospital in an ambulance with Mr. Jackson and not to be alarmed," Alvarez said. "He was worried I would hear about it."
Three more calls to her were recorded that day but she didn't remember the conversations.
Alvarez was depicted as an unwitting conduit for Murray's purchases of the powerful anesthetic propofol which Jackson craved as a sleep aid. Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of giving the star an overdose of the drug and failing to respond properly when he found him not breathing.
Murray has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys claim Jackson took the fatal dose himself.
Alvarez recounted how she received many shipments of boxes for Murray in April, May and June 2009 but didn't open them and had no idea of their contents. The pharmacist who shipped them to her Santa Monica apartment from Las Vegas testified that he thought he was shipping to Murray's medical office.
FedEx and pharmacy receipts displayed by Deputy District Attorney Deborah Brazil showed that they contained large amounts of propofol, sedatives and a skin whitening cream used to treat the skin disease vitiligo from which Jackson suffered.
Tim Lopez, the Las Vegas pharmacist who filled orders from Murray, testified that over four months he purchased 255 vials of propofol, 20 vials of the sedative lorazepam, 60 vials of midazolam and several tubes of lidocaine which was intended to numb injection sites. He also purchased saline solution in IV bags.
Alvarez, who had given birth to Murray's son in March 2009, recalled the doctor telling her that he was Jackson's private physician. The 29-year-old actress said she found it exciting.
"It was Michael Jackson!" she exulted when she recounted meeting the star. She said Murray surprised her, telling her he was taking her to meet someone and then they arrived at Jackson's home.
"I was speechless," Alvarez said. "I couldn't believe I was meeting Michael Jackson."
Alvarez smiled frequently and was often breathless during her testimony. She told of her romance with Murray that began at a Las Vegas night club and drew her into the glamorous world of Jackson's inner circle.
She said she and Murray met Jackson several other times. "Michael was very interested in the baby," she said. "He saw my stomach growing with the pregnancy. He wanted to schedule a visit so he could see my son."
Alvarez said she brought the little boy to Jackson's home twice for visits.
When they settled into her Santa Monica apartment, Alvarez said, Murray began keeping odd hours but she never asked why. He would leave at about 9 p.m. and not return until the morning. He would tell her he was "going to work," she said, and she presumed he was at Jackson's home.
She said she had plans to move to London with Murray when he toured with Jackson but those plans ended when the superstar died on June 25, 2009. "I never finished packing," she said sadly.
In opening statements, a prosecutor said Murray had received more than four gallons of propofol while working with Jackson, most of it sent to Alvarez's home. Murray told police after Jackson's death that he was giving the singer propofol as a sleep aid.
Alvarez was preceded to the witness stand by other Murray girlfriends.
There was Michelle Bela, who met him in in February 2008 when she was working at a Las Vegas social club and he was a patron, she said. They exchanged phone numbers and began dating.
In 2009, she said, he told her he was working as Michael Jackson's personal physician. On June 16, she said he left her a voice message. Brazil asked to play the audio, but the judge rejected it.
The prosecutor indicated that Murray told Bela he wanted to see her before he left on tour. A few hours before Jackson died, he left her a text message, she said.
She was followed to the stand by Sade (Sha-day) Anding, a Houston waitress who met Murray at a steak house where she worked in February 2009. She said they became close and Murray referred to her as his girlfriend.
His phone call to her was the last one before Jackson died. Phone records show that it was made at 11:51 a.m.
"What he said to me is 'Hello, it's Conrad Murray. How are you doing?'" she recalled. "I said, 'Fine, but I haven't heard from you in a while.'" She said he told her he was fine, but "I started telling him about my day and then I realized he wasn't on the phone.
"I pressed the phone to my ear and I heard mumbling and voices. Like the phone was in his pocket. I heard coughing," she said.
She said she kept saying, "Hello, hello, are you there?" When there was no response, she hung up.