Michael Jackson's security guard, wooed by tabloids, finally speaks at trial

At the Conrad Murray trial Thursday, security guard Alberto Alvarez provided the most detailed public account yet of the frantic scene in the bedroom the day Michael Jackson died.

Al Seib/AP
Defense attorney Edward Chernoff (l.) questions Alberto Alvarez, one of Michael Jackson's security guards, about the timeline the day Michael Jackson died during Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial in downtown Los Angeles Thursday.

A member of Michael Jackson’s security staff testified on Thursday that Conrad Murray asked him to help gather up drug vials and remove a drip bag from an IV stand before a 911 call was made to summon emergency medical personnel.

At the time, Mr. Jackson was lying face up in bed with his eyes and mouth open, palms facing upward, and showing no visible signs of life, the witness said.

The new revelations came during dramatic testimony on the third day of the involuntary manslaughter trial of the pop legend’s personal physician at the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The testimony is important because it suggests that Dr. Murray may have been more concerned with protecting himself than in acting quickly to do everything possible to try to save Jackson’s life.

Alberto Alvarez, the security guard, said he was called to the scene where he saw Murray performing chest compressions on Jackson, who was not breathing and was unresponsive.

“He was laying on his back with his hands extended out to his side with palms up,” Mr. Alvarez said. “His eyes were slightly open and his mouth was open.”

“When I came into the room, [Murray] said, ‘Alberto, hurry, we have to get him to a hospital, we have to get an ambulance,' ” Alvarez told the jury.

Almost immediately, two of Jackson’s children, daughter, Paris, and son, Prince, entered the room. “Paris screamed out, ‘Daddy,’ " and began crying, Alvarez said.

Murray told the security guard: “Don’t let them see their dad like this.”

The scene in Jackson's bedroom

The testimony provided the most detailed public account yet of the frantic scene in the bedroom of Jackson’s Los Angeles mansion on June 25, 2009, the day he died.

Authorities said he died from a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol, which Jackson had apparently been using to try to treat his chronic insomnia.

The drug is usually administered in a surgical setting like a hospital or clinic with a full array of vital-sign monitors and emergency-resuscitation equipment. Murray was allegedly administering the anesthetic to Jackson in his bedroom through injections and intravenous drip bags.

Alvarez said after rushing the children out of the room, he asked Murray what happened. “He said he had a reaction, he had a bad reaction,” Alvarez told the jury.

The security guard said he did not see any equipment in the room that might help monitor Jackson’s vital signs or alert staff to a medical emergency.

Alvarez said he was shocked when he noticed a device called a condom catheter attached to Jackson’s penis. The device is used frequently in concert with an intravenous saline drip to allow medical patients to urinate while still in bed. He also saw clear plastic air tubes inserted into Jackson’s nose, and an intravenous tube inserted into Jackson’s leg.

“While I was standing at the foot of the bed, [Murray] reached over and grabbed a handful of vials and said, ‘Here, put these in the bag,’ “ Alvarez said. Next, he said, Murray instructed him to remove an IV bag from an IV stand near Jackson’s bed and place it in a plastic bag.

Alvarez said he noticed a bottle inside the bag. Deputy District Attorney David Walgren showed Alvarez an empty 100 milliliter bottle of propofol.

“Does this appear to be the bottle you saw in the bag,” the prosecutor asked.

“It appears to be,” Alvarez answered. “Yes, sir.”

Alvarez said when he removed the bag from the IV stand he saw a “milky white substance” at the bottom of the bag.

Propofol is white and resembles milk.

“Why were you following these instructions to assist in collecting these vials and the saline bag?” Mr. Walgren asked.

“I believed that Conrad Murray had the best intentions for Mr. Jackson,” Alvarez said. “I knew it was a medical emergency so I proceeded to follow his instructions.”

He added: “I thought we were packing and getting ready to go to the hospital.”

“Following those events, is that when you called 911,” Walgren asked.

“Yes, sir.”

The 911 call

Once the 911 operator understood that the patient was unconscious and not breathing, he instructed Alvarez to get the patient onto the floor to properly administer CPR.

At that point, Murray and Alvarez moved Jackson to the floor. To do so, Murray pulled an IV tube out of Jackson’s leg, Alvarez said. Murray also clipped a compact monitoring device to Jackson’s finger, he said.

As Murray tended to Jackson on the floor, Alvarez heard another security guard, Faheem Mohammed, arrive in the room. Alvarez said he told Mr. Mohammed “it was not looking good.”

That’s when Murray asked if anyone knew CPR.

“Me and Faheem kind of looked at each other for a split second,” Alvarez said. Alvarez went to Jackson and began administering chest compressions, while Murray administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“What, if anything, did Dr. Murray say,” the prosecutor asked.

Alvarez answered: “I recall after a couple of … a few breaths, he came up and said this is the first time I do mouth to mouth, but I have to, he is my friend.”

The paramedics arrived within minutes but were unable to revive Jackson. He was transported to UCLA Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.

Alvarez said he has refused more than 20 requests for media interviews about the day Jackson died. He said one news outlet offered him $500,000. The National Enquirer proposed $200,000.

He said he liked working for Jackson and that since his death he had gone “from a great salary to hardly anything.”

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