Jackson 'dead before doctor's call'


Michael Jackson's physician, Dr Conrad Murray, denies all charges related to the singer's death (AP)

Michael Jackson was already dead when his physician summoned help, a US prosecutor has said.

David Walgren was opening a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles to decide whether Dr Conrad Murray should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter.

Mr Walgren said evidence would show that Murray also tried to conceal his administering the powerful anaesthetic propofol to the pop superstar, ordering a bodyguard to collect items before paramedics were called.

Jackson died in June 2009 and authorities contend Murray gave him a lethal dose of propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion.

“The evidence will show through the expert testimony, by all accounts, Michael Jackson was dead in the bedroom at 100 North Carrolwood prior to the paramedics arriving,” Walgren said.

Murray’s lawyer, Ed Chernoff, declined to give an opening statement. At the end of the multi-day hearing, a judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for Murray to stand trial. The cardiologist has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers have said he did not give Jackson anything that should have killed him.

The prosecution’s first witness was Kenny Ortega, a choreographer working on Jackson’s final concert series and who later directed the concert film “This Is It,” which was based on rehearsal footage. Mr Walgren said he will rely on Murray’s statements to police, as well as text messages, phone records and expert testimony to show the doctor should stand trial.

He said evidence will show Murray waited at least 21 minutes to call for an ambulance and ordered a bodyguard to help him clean up evidence before summoning help. In the most favourable interpretation, Mr Walgren said, Murray waited at least nine minutes before calling paramedics.

He faulted the doctor in opening statements for performing chest compressions during his attempt to resuscitate Jackson with one hand on his bed, rather than a hard surface as is generally required. Mr Walgren also plans to call several experts whom he said would testify, “there are a number of actions displayed by Dr Murray that show an extreme deviation from the standard of care”.

The prosecutor also said he would call a bodyguard who would testify that Murray ordered him to collect items from Jackson’s bedroom.

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