Paramedic says scene in Jackson’s house was amiss
Testifies Murray wasn’t open about stricken patient
LOS ANGELES - After just a few moments in Michael Jackson’s bedroom, the paramedic dispatched to save the singer’s life knew things weren’t adding up.
There was the skinny man on the floor, eyes open and a surgical cap on his head. His skin was turning blue. Paramedic Richard Senneff asked the sweating, frantic-looking doctor in the room what condition the stricken man had.
“He said, ‘Nothing. He has nothing,’ ’’ Senneff told jurors at the involuntary manslaughter trial of Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray.
“Simply, that did not add up to me,’’ Senneff said.
Over the course of the 42 minutes that Los Angeles paramedics tried to revive Jackson, several other things about the room and Murray’s responses seemed inconsistent, Senneff said.
After repeated prodding, Murray revealed a few details about his actions, saying that he had only given Jackson a dose of the sedative lorazepam to help him sleep. Senneff noted there were bottles of medicine on Jackson’s nightstand, and Murray finally offered that he was treating the singer for dehydration and exhaustion.
Murray never mentioned that he had also been giving Jackson doses of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives, a key omission that prosecutors say shows he repeatedly tried to conceal his actions during the struggle to save Jackson.
Murray, 58, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Murray could face up to four years in prison and lose his medical license.
Prosecutors contend that the Houston-based cardiologist repeatedly lied to medics and emergency room doctors about medications he had been giving Jackson in the singer’s bedroom. They contend that Murray administered a fatal dose of propofol and other sedatives.
Defense lawyers say Jackson gave himself the fatal dose after his doctor left the room.
Defense attorney Nareg Gourjian asked Senneff whether Jackson’s appearance was consistent with someone who was a drug addict.
Senneff said that was a difficult determination to make, but that the singer “looked like he had a chronic health problem.’’
Senneff was the first paramedic to reach Jackson’s bedroom and said within moments, he and three other paramedics were working to revive Jackson. After trying multiple heart-starting medications and other efforts, Jackson was still lifeless.
“Did you ever see any sign of life in Mr. Jackson during the entire time you were attempting to save him,’’ prosecutor Deborah Brazil asked.
“No I did not,’’ Senneff said.
Another paramedic dispatched to the room, Martin Blount, agreed. He told jurors that they thought Jackson was dead soon after arriving in the room.
Blount also said he saw three open bottles of lidocaine on the floor of the room, but Murray never mentioned giving Jackson the painkiller. He told jurors he saw the doctor scoop up the vials and drop them in a black bag.
Emergency room personnel at a nearby hospital advised Senneff to declare Jackson dead in his bedroom, but the singer was transported because Murray wanted life-saving efforts to continue.
He said he also saw Murray collecting items from Jackson’s bedside after the singer was taken to an ambulance. The doctor was alone in the bedroom for several moments before joining paramedics in the ambulance for the drive to the hospital, Senneff said.
In the ambulance, Blount said, he heard Murray make a phone call. “ ‘It’s about Michael, and it doesn’t look good,’ ’’ Blount recalled hearing Murray say.
Jurors also heard from a former Murray patient who lauded the doctor’s treatment of him but said his cardiologist became increasingly distant and hard to reach while working with Jackson.
“I felt like I was getting the best care in the world,’’ said Robert Russell of Las Vegas, before Murray became the singer’s personal physician. “The advice he gave me saved my life.’’
He said he grew irritated with Murray after the doctor went to work for Jackson. Russell said he couldn’t get answers about his own treatment, and the man who once spent so much time offering care and advice was unreachable.
He called Murray’s office on June 25, 2009 - the day Jackson died - and demanded to speak to the doctor.
The doctor returned the call and left him a voicemail at 11:49 a.m. Prosecutors are using records to show that Murray was on the phone in the moments before he realized Jackson was unconscious.
Thirty-seven minutes later, Senneff ran into Jackson’s bedroom.