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Paramedic: Dr. Murray's report on Michael Jackson didn't add up

The first paramedic to arrive in Michael Jackson's bedroom says he was told the emergency had just occurred, but that the pop star's condition contradicted Dr. Murray's report.

By Staff writer / September 30, 2011

Prosecution witness and paramedic Richard Senneff testifies in Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles, Friday.

Al Seib/Reuters

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The first paramedic to arrive in Michael Jackson’s bedroom on the day he died in 2009 testified on Friday that Mr. Jackson’s condition did not match what his personal physician told emergency workers as they fought to save his life.

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“How long has the patient been down?” Los Angeles Fire Department paramedic Richard Senneff said he asked Dr. Conrad Murray, as first responders began to work on the pop star’s lifeless body.

“It just happened,” Mr. Senneff said Dr. Murray told him.

Senneff said he took it as encouraging news. “It meant to me this was a patient we had a really good chance of saving,” he told the jury.

But as he and his colleagues continued to fight to revive Jackson, Senneff said, the medical evidence uniformly contradicted Murray’s assertion, suggesting the emergency had not been as recent as the doctor had declared. Senneff later estimated it could have been 20 minutes to an hour earlier.

The comments came on the fourth day of testimony at the Los Angeles County Courthouse, where Murray is on trial for allegedly administering a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to Jackson.

Prosecutors allege that Murray was using the powerful anesthetic to treat Jackson’s chronic inability to sleep. Propofol is not a recognized treatment for insomnia and is usually administered by specialists in a surgical setting in a fully equipped hospital or clinic.

Murray was allegedly administering the drug to Jackson in his bedroom on a nightly basis without monitoring equipment capable of sounding an alarm should Jackson develop life threatening complications.

Prosecutors allege that is what happened on June 25, 2009. An autopsy showed Jackson died of an overdose of propofol.

Murray, a cardiologist hired to serve as Jackson’s personal physician, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for his alleged role in the death. If convicted he faces up to four years in prison and loss of his medical license.

Defense lawyers suggest that Jackson gave himself the lethal dose of propofol when Murray was out of the room.

The precise time that Jackson stopped breathing and lost consciousness is important in the trial because prosecutors maintain that Murray may have delayed calling 911 in an effort to cover up his and Jackson’s unauthorized use of propofol.

Telephone records suggest Murray was talking on his cell phone instead of constantly monitoring his sedated patient.

At some point around noon on March 25, Murray realized Jackson was in the midst of a medical emergency.

At about 12:05 p.m., according to Jackson’s chef, the doctor burst from Jackson’s bedroom and yelled to the household staff for help.

At 12:12 p.m., he telephoned Jackson’s personal assistant and informed him that Jackson had “a bad reaction.”

The 911 call was not made until 12:20 p.m.

Paramedics arrived at 12:26 p.m.

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