Jackson doctor's girlfriend called to testify

Associated Press
Dr. Conrad Murray speaks with his attorney Ed Chernoff during his trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in Los Angeles. Murray has pleaded not guilty and faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death. (AP Photo/Mario Anzuoni, Pool)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors on Tuesday called the girlfriend of the doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death to detail the physician's busy schedule on the day the singer died and her own interactions with the late King of Pop.

Nicole Alvarez told jurors during the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray that the doctor had first told her that he was Jackson's personal physician for a year before the singer's June 2009 death.

Alvarez beamed as she described meeting Jackson for the first time in Las Vegas, where Murray maintains a medical practice.

"I was speechless," Alvarez said. "I couldn't believe I was meeting Michael Jackson."

Alvarez said she and Murray met Jackson several other times, including after the birth of the couple's young son.

Alvarez said after April 2009, Murray would frequently leave her apartment at night and return early the next day. She said she knew Murray was working as Jackson's personal doctor while the singer prepared for a series of comeback concerts.

Phone records displayed in court Monday showed Murray called Alvarez four times the afternoon of Jacksons' death in 2009, including once while he was in the ambulance with Jackson's lifeless body on the way to the hospital.

Murray has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors are keeping jurors focused on the doctor's phone records from the day Jackson died, attempting to show that Murray was trying to juggle his medical practice, personal life and superstar patient all at the same time.

Authorities contend he gave the singer a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives. Murray's attorneys claim Jackson gave himself the fatal dose. If convicted, Murray faces four years behind bars and the loss of his medical license.

Earlier Tuesday, a woman who was speaking on the phone with Murray on the day the singer died said the call was interrupted and the physician was no longer paying attention to her.

Sade Anding said she heard voices, coughing and mumbling on Murray's end of the line. She told jurors that it sounded like his cell phone was in his pocket. Anding said Murray called her at 11:51 a.m. on June 25, 2009. About five or six minutes into their call is when she noticed Murray was no longer paying attention.

"There was a pause," Anding said. "That's when I realized he was no longer on the phone."

"I heard mumbling of voices, it sounded like the phone was in his pocket," she said. "I heard coughing, and nobody answered."

Testimony Monday was heavily centered on the calls Murray made and received on the day Jackson died, with witnesses ranging from the Houston-based cardiologist's patients, a doctor seeking advice and a woman who had dated Murray.

To this point, witnesses have been relatively brief, filling in prosecutors' timeline of the hours leading up to Jackson's death. Two people who phoned Murray that morning offered glowing appraisals of Murray.

The phone records have revealed the special relationship Murray kept with his patients.

Houston-based Dr. Joanne Prashad told jurors she called Murray the morning of Jackson's death to inquire whether it would be safe to operate on a patient whom Murray had treated. Prashad said she was surprised that Murray remembered the patient and the exact dosage of medicine that he was taking.

Murray's lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff asked Prashad whether Murray's recall was unusual for a doctor.

She said yes. "I was impressed," Prashad said.

Another patient, Antoinette Gill, told jurors she had called Murray's cell phone for a referral, but didn't reach him.

Neither did Bridgette Morgan, a former lover who, according to court documents, called Murray to follow up on his promise to purchase her a plane ticket for her birthday.

Her relationship with Murray was not discussed in front of jurors. Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled earlier this year that prosecutors could not describe the relationship Murray had with certain women or how he met them.

The records overall reveal a doctor who was on his phone a lot in the hours before Jackson's death.

Another former patient, Robert Russell, testified that the doctor had returned a phone message to him at 11:49 a.m. — just 15 minutes or so before he emerged from Jackson's bedroom frantically seeking help.

He had been on the phone with his medical practice for 32 minutes before that, and was also sending emails about his $150,000 a month contract to serve as Jackson's personal physician during the comeback tour.

Five of the eight witnesses called Monday testified about Murray's phone records. Jurors also heard from two emergency room doctors who interacted with Murray after Jackson was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Both doctors said Murray never mentioned giving Jackson propofol. Cardiologist Dr. Thao Nguyen said Murray didn't provide much information about his treatment of Jackson, but urged doctors to try everything they could to revive him.

"Dr. Murray asked that we not give up easily and try to save Michael Jackson's life," she said. "... In Dr. Murray's mind, if we called it quits, we would be giving up easily."

In the end, Nguyen and colleague Dr. Richelle Cooper told jurors, Jackson was dead by the time he arrived in the emergency room and nothing more could have been done.

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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at https://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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