LOS ANGELES — The doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death never revealed that he had given the singer a powerful anesthetic, a paramedic told a jury hearing the physician’s involuntary manslaughter case Friday.
Paramedic Richard Senneff said Dr. Conrad Murray told him that he had only given Jackson the sedative lorazepam. He said Murray initially said Jackson wasn’t suffering from any condition.
Murray eventually told medics that he was treating the singer for exhaustion and dehydration, he said. The doctor did not mention that he had been giving Jackson the surgical anesthetic propofol to help the singer sleep.
Murray appeared frantic when the paramedic arrived in the bedroom on the day of Jackson’s death in June 2009, Senneff said. He had to ask Murray three times about what condition Jackson had before the doctor answered.
“He said, ’Nothing. He has nothing,”’ Senneff said.
“Simply, that did not add up to me.”
The veteran paramedic said Jackson was cool to the touch, his eyes were open and dry and had an IV in his leg. Senneff was one of four paramedics who worked to try to revive Jackson.
Murray, 58, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, Murray could face up to four years in prison and lose his medical license.
Prosecutors contend the Houston-based cardiologist repeatedly lied to medics and emergency room doctors about medications he had been giving Jackson in the singer’s bedroom.
Authorities contend Murray administered a fatal dose of propofol and other sedatives. Murray’s attorneys claim Jackson gave himself the fatal dose after his doctor left the room.
Meanwhile, Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ordered prosecutors and defence attorneys not to speak publicly about the case. He didn’t specify the reason for his decision, but said a violation could result in a contempt of court charge.
Pastor had earlier told attorneys not to comment on his rulings.
Pastor ordered Houston attorney Matt Alford to appear in court Friday afternoon. Alford, who is a partner of defence attorney Ed Chernoff, appeared earlier in the day on NBC’s “The Today Show” in which he said the jury was smart enough to know prosecutors haven’t proven their case.
“We know that the jury knows — and this is a smart jury — that they know that the state of California has not proven their case,” Alford said on the show.
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.
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.
Prosecutors on Friday also called an executive for the maker of a fingertip medical device used by Murray to monitor oxygen in Jackson’s blood.
Nonin Medical executive Bob Johnson told jurors the $275 device was not adequate to continuously monitor patients because it did not have an audible alarm and other features that would alert a caretaker to problems.
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.
After Murray began treating Jackson, Russell said he couldn’t get answers about his own treatment. He called Murray’s office on June 25, 2009 — the day Jackson died — and demanded to speak to the doctor.
The doctor 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.
Russell told jurors Murray’s message seemed odd because the doctor said he was going on sabbatical, despite telling the salesman and his wife months earlier that he was going to work for Jackson.
Prosecutors are expected to call another paramedic who treated Jackson.
Murray’s trial is expected to last five weeks and is in its fourth day.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP