Also during the preliminary hearing Monday, judge rules that evidence from Dr. Conrad Murray’s phone can be used.
By Gil Kaufman
One thing became clear during testimony in the preliminary hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray on Monday (January 10) in Los Angeles: The cardiologist ordered a lot of the powerful anesthetic propofol in the months before his client Michael Jackson’s death.
Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials determined that the pop star died of a lethal dose of the surgical anesthetic in June 2009. Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, has admitted that he administered propofol to the singer in the hours before Jackson’s passing.
And while Murray’s lawyers have said that their client did not do anything that “should have” caused Jackson’s death and may be preparing a defense in which they will claim that it was Jackson himself that administered the fatal dose, during continuing testimony in the second week of Murray’s pretrial hearing on involuntary manslaughter charges, it became clear that there was plenty of propofol around.
According to TMZ, pharmacist Tim Lopez of Las Vegas Applied Pharmacy Services — Murray has offices and a home in Las Vegas — testified that Murray ordered more than 250 vials of propofol in the two months before Jackson’s death. The drug is intended for use in a clinical setting during surgery where equipment is on hand to monitor blood pressure and oxygen levels.
Investigators executed search warrants on Murray’s Las Vegas home and office, as well as Applied Pharmacy, in summer 2009 in search of evidence connected to an investigation into Jackson’s death. The coroner’s investigation reported that 12 vials of propofol were found in the bedroom and closet of Jackson’s rented mansion after his death, and last week, one of the singer’s bodyguards testified that in the moments before a 911 call was placed, Murray asked him to help put medical evidence in a bag, including vials that appeared to contain a milky substance that resembled propofol.
Jackson, a chronic insomniac, allegedly used propofol as a sleep aid, and according to Lopez’s testimony, from the time Murray came onboard as Jackson’s physician in April until the singer’s death, the doctor ordered 130 vials of propofol in 100-millileter doses and another 125 in 20-millileter vials, as well as more than 40 vials of the sedative Versed and the anti-anxiety drug Ativan, which, like the propofol, was sent to Murray’s girlfriend’s home in Santa Monica, California, where he was staying while caring for Jackson. According to The Associated Press, Murray told Lopez the Santa Monica address was for one of the doctor’s clinics.
Also on Monday, the judge in the case, Michael Pastor, ruled that recently obtained data from Murray’s iPhone can be admitted as evidence in the case. The evidence reportedly includes a handful of voicemails and 12 screenshots.
The AP reported that a retired federal investigator testified on Monday that he retrieved e-mail from Murray’s cell phone that included an exchange between the doctor and a London insurance broker who was handling the policy for Jackson’s planned series of “This Is It” comeback shows. On the morning of Jackson’s death, the broker asked Murray to respond to reports that the 50-year-old singer was in poor health. “As far as the statements of his health published by the press, let me say they’re all malicious to the best of my knowledge,” Murray replied.
So far, prosecutors have used phone records and testimony from police and Murray’s current and former girlfriends to create a timeline that shows that the doctor was on the phone throughout the morning of Jackson’s death, including the time after he administered the last of several doses that morning of propofol to the pop star. Previous testimony has focused on Murray’s botched attempts to deliver CPR to Jackson, the delay in calling 911 and the belief by paramedics that the “Thriller” singer was already dead when they transported him to a local hospital.
The preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to bring Murray to trial is expected to last around two weeks. Murray has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter, which could land him in prison for up to four years.