LOS ANGELES — For nearly three hours, the doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death told police about his final hours with the superstar who was so desperate for sleep that he was getting anesthetic injections in his bedroom six nights a week.
Dr. Conrad Murray’s interview two days after Jackson’s death in June 2009 led police back to the singer’s mansion, where they ultimately found 12 vials of propofol. It was a small fraction of the 255 vials a Las Vegas pharmacist said he shipped Murray in the nearly three months before Jackson’s death.
The interview also provided detectives with a roadmap of the drugs ultimately found throughout Jackson’s system, including the anesthetic propofol and the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam.
On Monday, the homicide detective who interviewed Murray described the doctor’s retelling of his efforts to get Jackson to fall asleep and to revive him when he stopped breathing.
Detective Orlando Martinez was the 20th witness prosecutors called during Murray’s preliminary hearing, which will end with a judge ruling whether there is enough evidence for the doctor to stand trial on an involuntary manslaughter charge. Although prosecutors have not indicated when they will conclude their case, most major witnesses have already testified.
The Houston-based cardiologist has pleaded not guilty and his attorneys have said he didn’t give Jackson anything that should have killed him.
From what Murray told Martinez, he did everything he could the morning of June 25 to get the pop superstar to sleep.
He rubbed the singer’s feet and put skin lotion on his back.
He gave him doses of sedatives and when they didn’t work, turned down the music in his bedroom and told Jackson to meditate.
But Jackson was still awake.
According to Murray, the singer was growing frustrated, repeatedly telling the doctor that he would have to cancel the planned series of 50 comeback concerts in London because he couldn’t sleep. He wanted his “milk,” which the detective said Murray told him was how Jackson referred to propofol.
At 10:40 a.m. – nearly 10 hours after returning to his mansion after a rehearsal a prosecutor described as “fabulous” – Murray told police he gave Jackson a 25 milligram dose of propofol. It was half his usual dose.
Murray said he watched the singer for a few minutes, then made a long walk to a bathroom.
When he returned, Jackson wasn’t breathing. Murray told the detective he was “stunned.”
He immediately tried to start saving Jackson, but told Martinez he didn’t call 911 himself. “He said he was caring for his patient and he did not want to neglect him,” Martinez testified.
Paramedics would not be called until 12:21 p.m., and Murray was making calls for much of the 11 o’clock hour, phone records presented during the five-day hearing show.
Neither prosecutors nor Murray’s defense attorney on Monday addressed the apparent discrepancies in the police version of the doctor’s interview and other evidence. They also did not say whether most of the propofol that Murray ordered was used, although the doctor told Martinez he had been giving Jackson 50 milligrams of propofol six nights a week for roughly two months.
According to Murray’s attorney, Ed Chernoff, the detective’s testimony covered only a portion of the doctor’s interview with police.
As with other witnesses, more details are likely to emerge if Murray is ordered to stand trial.
Preliminary hearings have a lower burden of proof than trials, and defense attorneys rarely present their own witnesses or theories.
Prosecutors have so far used phone records and testimony from police, paramedics and Murray’s current and former girlfriends to try to show Murray was on the phone throughout the morning of Jackson’s death, even after administering propofol to the singer.
They hope to convince a judge of several key points: that Murray was distracted when he should have been monitoring Jackson, that he delayed calling 911, that he botched CPR efforts and that the singer was dead before help was summoned.
Murray could face up to four years in prison if tried and convicted.