Paramedic for Jackson had immediate suspicions


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 with 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 to Senneff.

After repeated prodding, Murray revealed a few details about his actions, saying he had given Jackson a dose only of the sedative lorazepam to help him sleep, Senneff testified.

Also, there were bottles of medicine on Jackson's nightstand, and Murray finally said he was treating the singer for dehydration and exhaustion.

Senneff said Murray never mentioned that he had also been giving Jackson doses of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives, an omission that prosecutors say shows he repeatedly tried to conceal his actions during the struggle to save the pop superstar.

Murray, 58, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison and lose his medical license.

Prosecutors contend the Houston-based cardiologist with an office in Las Vegas lied to medics and emergency room doctors about medications he had been giving Jackson. They allege Murray administered a fatal dose of propofol and other sedatives.

Defense lawyers contend 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 he did think the singer "looked like he had a chronic health problem."

Senneff was the first paramedic to reach Jackson's bedroom, and he said that 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 they arrived in the room.

Blount said he saw three open bottles of lidocaine on the floor of the room but noted that 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.

Between the paramedics' testimony, Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor threatened Murray's lawyers with a contempt charge over an interview the law partner of lead defense counsel Ed Chernoff did Friday with "The Today Show." In the interview, attorney Matt Alford criticized a prosecution witness, Jackson's bodyguard Alberto Alvarez.

Alvarez testified Thursday that Murray told him to place vials of medication in a bag before calling 911. The defense has challenged his account.

Prosecutors complained, and Pastor watched the interview during a break. He said he was shocked and had watched the interview "with my mouth open." The interview was done hours after the judge warned attorneys not to comment about the case outside court.

He told Alford to appear for a contempt hearing on Nov. 15 and described him as a witness after Chernoff told Pastor to hold him in contempt instead of his partner. All the discussions about the interview were held outside the presence of jurors, who are under orders to avoid media coverage about the case.

The jury heard testimony about efforts to revive Jackson, who the paramedics and emergency room doctor thought was dead at his rented mansion. Still, the singer was transported to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center because Murray wanted life-saving efforts to continue.

After loading Jackson into an ambulance, Senneff said he saw Murray collecting items from Jackson's bedside. The doctor was alone in the bedroom for several moments before joining paramedics in the ambulance for the drive to the hospital, Senneff said.

Gourjian suggested Murray had been collecting his wallet and glasses, but Senneff said he could not see the items.

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 saying.

Jurors also heard from a former Murray patient who lauded the doctor's treatment of him but said the 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."

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 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.

 

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