January 5, 2011 / 12:12 AM / 9 years ago

Jackson staffer says doctor told him to bag evidence

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An employee of Michael Jackson testified on Wednesday that the singer’s doctor ordered him to carry away medical vials and an intravenous bag before calling paramedics the day Jackson died.

Conrad Murray, the late Michael Jackson's personal physician, sits in court during his arraignment at the Los Angeles Superior Court Airport Branch Courthouse February 8, 2010 on one count of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death. REUTERS/Mark Boster/Pool

Prosecutors want to establish that Dr. Conrad Murray, who was caring for Jackson at the time of his death, was negligent in his treatment and tried to cover up his errors.

The testimony of Alberto Alvarez, who said he was the director of logistics for Jackson, comes on the second day of a hearing into whether Murray should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the sudden death of the “Thriller” singer in June 2009.

Members of Jackson’s family, including his sisters Janet and La Toya, mother Katherine and father Joe, watched Alvarez testify that Dr. Murray called him and told him to rush to Jackson’s bedroom because the singer had “a bad reaction.”

“He (Murray) then grabbed a handful of bottles or vials and instructed me to put them in a bag,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said Murray told him to take away an intravenous bag that had “a milky substance” inside, and put it with the other bottles in a plastic bag that was placed inside a canvas carrying case. He said he did not know where the bags went.

In opening statements on Tuesday, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney David Walgren claimed more than 20 minutes elapsed between the time Murray found Jackson motionless in his bed and the point at which paramedics were called. In that time, and later in the day, prosecutors claim he covered up and concealed evidence.

The top-selling singer-songwriter died of a drug overdose in his rented mansion in Los Angeles, age 50. Coroners later determined his death was due mainly to acute intoxication of a powerful anesthetic, propofol.

The drug, which appears as a milky white liquid, is most often used in hospital settings but Jackson asked that it be administered to him at home as a sleep aid.

Houston-based cardiologist Murray, who had been hired to care for the singer ahead of a series of concerts, has admitted to giving Jackson propofol, but he has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Attorneys believe the hearing may last up to two weeks, and at the end a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to make Murray stand trial, which legal experts believe will happen because the burden of proof in a preliminary hearing is relatively low.

Writing by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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