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Jackson doctor’s phone footprints on display
Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Prosecutors in the manslaughter trial against Michael Jackson’s personal physician are keeping jurors focused on the doctor’s phone records from the day the King of Pop died, attempting to show that Dr. Conrad Murray was trying to juggle his medical practice, personal life and superstar patient all at the same time.
Testimony Monday was heavily centered on the calls Murray made and received on June 25, 2009, 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 the doctor accused of involuntary manslaughter in connection with Jackson’s death.
Jurors have yet to hear from two other women with whom Murray was romantically involved, though both could testify as early as Tuesday. Sade Anding has previously said she was on the phone with Murray shortly before noon when he became distracted and put the phone down without hanging up. Prosecutors are expected to also call Nicole Alvarez, who had a child with Murray and whose apartment he used to ship orders of the anesthetic propofol.
Phone records displayed in court Monday showed Murray called Alvarez four times the afternoon of Jacksons’ death, including once while he was in the ambulance with Jackson’s lifeless body on the way to the hospital.
Murray has pleaded not guilty. Authorities contend he gave the singer a lethal dose of 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.
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.
Another patient, Antoinette Gill, told jurors she had called Murray’s cell phone for a referral on June 25, 2009, but didn’t reach him.
Neither did Bridgette Morgan, a former lover who, according to court documents, called Murray to follow up on his promise to purchase her a plane ticket for her birthday. Her relationship with Murray was not discussed in front of jurors. Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled earlier this year that prosecutors could not describe the relationship Murray had with certain women or how he met them.
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 11:49 a.m. _ 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 a planned series of comeback concerts.
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.
By Matt Kibbe
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