LOS ANGELES, Sept 29 – Two of Michael Jackson’s key staff told a court of “frantic” efforts to save the star’s life while his children wept, and how doctor Conrad Murray suggested a cover-up minutes after he died.
On the second day of a long-awaited manslaughter trial, the court also heard that Murray claimed repeatedly that the pop icon was in good health, in the days and weeks before his death on June 25, 2009.
Witnesses also told how Jackson went regularly to a doctor for a skin disease, and sometimes emerged from the sessions talking slowly or slurring his speech.
The most gripping testimony though came from Michael Amir Williams, Jackson’s personal assistant for two years leading up to his death aged 50 from an overdose of the powerful sedative propofol.
He recalled the phone call from Murray alerting him that something had gone terribly wrong.
“He said ‘Where are you?’ I said: ‘I’m downtown.’ He said ‘Get here right away, Mr. Jackson had a bad reaction. Get here right away’ .. He said ‘Get somebody up here immediately,” Williams told the LA Superior Court.
The trial opened in Los Angeles Tuesday, when prosecutors laid out their case that Murray was guilty of “gross negligence,” while the medic’s lawyers said the drug-addicted star effectively caused his own death.
The first day saw chilling images of Jackson’s dead body and heard a haunting audio recording of the heavily-drugged singer talking on the phone only weeks before his death.
But it also heard evidence that Jackson, while giving cause for health concerns a week or two before he died, was in reasonable form in his last days, rehearsing for an ill-fated series of comeback shows in London.
His assistant echoed that Wednesday, recalling the last rehearsal at LA’s Staples Center on the night of June 24. “He was in good spirits,” he said, adding of Jackson’s last time on stage: “I thought it was amazing.”
But things went wrong overnight, when Murray allegedly gave Jackson a series of drugs to help him sleep — the doctor’s lawyers claim the star took more by himself — before finding him not breathing after going out the bathroom.
The next day, as paramedics rushed Jackson to the nearby UCLA hospital, Williams recounted how the media were already in hot pursuit, forcing him to shield the star’s children Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket from view.
After Jackson was pronounced dead, he recounted what he called an “odd” conversation with Murray. “I was in a hallway. We were making small talk about how horrible this is.”
Then, “he said that there’s some cream in Michael’s room .. that he wouldn’t want the world to know about. And he requested that I or someone give him a ride back to the house to get it.” He refused the request.
Pre-trial hearings heard evidence that Murray asked for other medicine and equipment — reportedly including bottles of propofol — to be removed from the room before police arrived.
Meanwhile Jackson’s head of security Faheem Muhammad recounted Wednesday how the star’s children crumpled in shock, as they saw their apparently dead father being given heart massage in his bedroom.
“Paris was on the ground balled up crying, and Prince was standing there, and he just had a real shocked, you know just slowly crying type of look on his face,” he said.
Muhammad also told how Jackson sometimes went every day to a doctor, named as Arnold Klein, for a skin problem, and afterwards sometimes emerged talking slowly.
“There were times when he was going almost every day; there were times that he didn’t go for a couple of days,” he said.
The state of Jackson’s health is central to the involuntary manslaughter trial, which is due to last five weeks.
On Wednesday a lawyer tasked with drawing up Murray’s $150,000-a-month contract to look after Jackson during the planned “This Is It’ London shows said the doctor told her repeatedly that Jackson was fine.
“Dr. Murray told me repeatedly that Michael Jackson was perfectly healthy, in excellent condition,” attorney Kathy Jorrie testified.
Murray, 58, faces up to four years in jail if convicted by a jury of seven men and five women.