LOS ANGELES – An attorney for the promoter of Michael Jackson’s final concerts said Wednesday the singer’s personal physician asked the company for life-saving equipment just days before the pop superstar’s death.
Kathy Jorrie, who works for concert giant AEG Live, testified at the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray that she questioned some of the doctor’s requests, which also included the possibility of hiring a second doctor to assist him.
“Dr. Murray told me Michael Jackson was perfectly healthy, in excellent condition,” Jorrie testified.
She said Murray told her not to worry about Jackson’s condition.
“He’s great,” she recounted the doctor telling her in a conversation the day before Jackson’s death.
Murray asked for a CPR machine in case one wasn’t available at the concert venue at London’s O2 arena, Jorrie explained.
Prosecutors allege Murray caused Jackson’s death by providing him with a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives without the proper lifesaving equipment or skills.
Other testimony came from Jackson’s former personal assistant, Michael Amir Williams, who recounted a 35-second phone conversation with Murray on the day Jackson died.
“He said `Get here right away, Mr. Jackson had a bad reaction. Get somebody up here immediately,’” Williams told the jury.
He said the doctor never told him to call 911 or described Jackson’s condition.
Williams said he arrived at Jackson’s mansion just as the singer was being loaded into an ambulance. He saw Murray, who he described as “frantic.”
Earlier in the day, a promoter told jurors that Jackson appeared strong during one of the final rehearsals for the highly anticipated comeback concerts.
Paul Gongaware, an executive for AEG Live, said Jackson seemed engaged and energetic during the rehearsal just two days before he died.
Prosecutors called Gongaware to demonstrate the importance of the concerts and in an apparent attempt to show that both the singer and his physician were deeply engaged in preparations for the show before Jackson died on June 25, 2009.
Gongaware also testified that he saw Murray at one of Jackson’s rehearsals after people affiliated with the planned concerts complained that the singer had been missing some of the sessions.
Prosecutors wrapped up their direct questioning of Gongaware before defense attorney Ed Chernoff briefly questioned the executive.
Under the cross-examination, Gongaware acknowledged AEG is being sued by Jackson’s mother for negligent supervision of Murray when he worked with Jackson.
Jorrie also testified about drafting a contract for Murray to work as Jackson’s personal physician.
At one point in negotiations, Murray requested his contract be modified to allow him to hire another physician in case he was tired or unavailable while Jackson was performing in London, she testified.
“He wanted to make sure that there was somebody else available to be of assistance,” Jorrie said.
In opening statements Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said Murray delayed summoning emergency crews and lied to doctors and medics when he failed to reveal he had been giving Jackson the medications to try to help the entertainer sleep.
Chernoff claimed Jackson gave himself a fatal dose of medication in a desperate attempt to get some sleep.
He said Murray had been trying to wean Jackson off propofol, but the entertainer kept requesting it on the day he died.
“Michael Jackson started begging,” Chernoff said. “When Michael Jackson told Dr. Murray, `I have to sleep. They will cancel my performance,’ he meant it.”
Prosecutors rejected Murray’s version and told jurors the Houston-based cardiologist also had a tremendous stake in Jackson appearing in the concerts.
The doctor had initially asked to be paid $5 million a year for working with Jackson, but Gongaware said he immediately rejected the proposal. Instead, Murray accepted an offer to become Jackson’s doctor for $150,000 a month – a sum he was never paid because his contract hadn’t been signed before Jackson’s death.
Murray has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison and have to relinquish his medical license.