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Jackson’s doctor allegedly halted CPR

Star’s aide says he stopped to collect, hide drug vials

Dr. Conrad Murray, who treated Jackson, has maintained that nothing he gave the singer should have killed him. Dr. Conrad Murray, who treated Jackson, has maintained that nothing he gave the singer should have killed him.
By Thomas Watkins
Associated Press / March 23, 2010

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LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s doctor halted CPR on the dying superstar and delayed calling paramedics so he could collect drug vials at the scene, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press that shed new light on the singer’s chaotic final moments.

The explosive allegation that Dr. Conrad Murray may have tried to hide evidence could be a focus as prosecutors move ahead with their involuntary manslaughter case against him.

The account was given to investigators by Alberto Alvarez, Jackson’s logistics director, who was summoned to the stricken star’s side as he was dying June 25. His statement and those from two other Jackson employees described the scene in Jackson’s bedroom.

Alvarez told investigators that he rushed to Jackson’s room and saw the star lying in his bed, an IV attached to his leg. Jackson’s mouth was agape, his eyes were open, and there was no sign of life. Murray worked frantically, at one point performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while Alvarez took over CPR.

Two of the star’s children, Prince and Paris, came in the room and cried as they saw Murray trying to save their father. A nanny was called to usher them away, and they were taken to wait outside in a vehicle.

The documents also detail an odd encounter with Murray after Jackson was declared dead at a hospital. Murray insisted he needed to return to the mansion to get cream that Jackson had “so the world wouldn’t find out about it,’’ according to the statements, which provide no elaboration.

Murray’s lawyer, Ed Chernoff, rejected the notion his client tried to hide drugs. He also noted Alvarez was interviewed twice by police and gave different accounts of what happened in Jackson’s bedroom. During the first interview, Alvarez made no mention of being told to tidy away medicine vials.

“He didn’t say any of those things, then two months later, all of a sudden, the doc is throwing bottles into the bag,’’ Chernoff said. “Alvarez’s statement is inconsistent with his previous statement.’’

Alvarez and the others who gave the statements, Jackson’s personal assistant, Michael Amir Williams, and driver/bodyguard, Faheem Muhammad, could be key witnesses should Murray go to trial. Except for the brief appearances by the nanny and the children, Alvarez and Muhammad were the only others in the room with Murray as he tried to save Jackson before paramedics arrived.

A call to Alvarez’s lawyer was not immediately returned.

Jackson, 50, hired Murray to be his personal physician as he prepared for a series of comeback performances in London. He was participating in strenuous rehearsals, and Murray would routinely meet him at the star’s home in the evening for treatments.

The Los Angeles coroner ruled Jackson’s death a homicide caused by an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and two other sedatives given to get Jackson, a chronic insomniac, to sleep.

Propofol, a milky white liquid, is supposed to be administered only by anesthesia professionals in medical settings. Patients require constant monitoring because the drug depresses breathing and heart rate while lowering blood pressure, a potentially deadly combination.

Murray, 57, has acknowledged briefly leaving Jackson’s bedside the day he died but maintained from the outset that nothing he gave the singer should have killed him.

It wasn’t illegal for him to administer propofol, though whether he followed proper procedures while Jackson was under the influence is a key part of the case against Murray.

Alvarez told police he arrived at Jackson’s home around 10:20 a.m. He was awaiting instructions for the day in a security trailer outside Jackson’s rented mansion when, at 12:17 p.m., his phone rang. It was Williams.

Williams told Alvarez that Murray had just called to say Jackson was in trouble. Alvarez rushed into the mansion and up the stairs to Jackson’s room, where he saw Murray standing at the pop star’s bedside, performing CPR with one hand, according to the statements.

Alvarez asked the doctor what had happened.

“He had a reaction; he had a bad reaction,’’ Murray replied, according to Alvarez’s statement.

Murray then grabbed a few vials with rubber tops and told Alvarez to put them in a bag, Alvarez told investigators. Alvarez picked up a plastic bag from the floor. Murray put the bottles inside, then Murray told Alvarez to put that plastic bag inside a brown canvas bag, according to the account.

Alvarez said Murray then told him to remove an IV bag from a stand and put it in a blue canvas bag. He did and noticed the bag had a connector with a milky white substance in it. Alvarez didn’t say what happened to the bags, nor did he identify what was in the vials.

Two days after Jackson’s death, under several hours of questioning by police, Murray eventually directed them to a closet in Jackson’s bedroom. In it, they found propofol and other sedatives in a bag.