Los Angeles (CNN) — Michael Jackson begged for his “milk,” his nickname for propofol, after a sleepless night and just hours before he died from what the coroner said was an overdose of the surgical anesthetic, the singer’s doctor Conrad Murray told detectives.
“I’ve got to sleep, Dr. Conrad,” Murray said Jackson pleaded to him. “I have these rehearsals to perform. I must be ready for the show in England. Tomorrow, I will have to cancel my performance, because you know I cannot function if I don’t get to sleep.”
Jurors in Murray’s involuntary manslaughter trial heard about half of the two-hour police interview on Friday, before going home for a three-day weekend.
Los Angeles Police Det. Scott Smith, one of two investigators who questioned Murray, is heard telling Murray at the start that he would make the interview “as painless and as quick as possible.”
The audio recording, however, was too much for Michael Jackson’s oldest sister, Rebbie. After she whispered to a bailiff, she walked into the jury box, next to the alternate jurors, and through the middle of the courtroom to the exit.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor stopped the audio playback and appeared angry at the disruption. “I can’t have people walking through the courtroom!” Pastor said.
Murray is not expected to testify during the trial, but the interview playback means that jurors will have heard his story — at least as he told it two days after Jackson’s death.
“This is divine guidance,” Murray said Jackson told him when he asked him to work as his personal doctor.
“He wanted me to be around forever. And he wanted to open a children’s hospital where children all over the world can get treatment, and he wanted me to be the medical director,” Murray told the detectives about his relationship with the pop star. Earlier this week, jurors heard a recording in which Jackson — using slow and slurred speech — talked to Murray about his dream of having a children’s hospital.
The prosecution is playing the interview between Murray and the detective to help prove their case that the doctor should be held criminally responsible for reckless medical treatment that they say significantly contributed to Jackson’s death.
Still, it does benefit the defense in some ways. The jury hears Murray’s reasons for not immediately calling 911 for help, his explanation of his much-criticized CPR techniques, and the story that he was trying to wean Jackson off of a dependency on propofol. At the same time, the defendant is not subjected to a cross-examination by prosecutors.
Murray said that when he agreed to be Jackson’s personal physician for his “This Is It” shows in London, he had no idea he would have to give him regular infusions of propofol.
But it was a drug Jackson told him he had used for years to get elusive sleep, he said.
“I was a bit surprised of his pharmacological knowledge,” Murray told police. “He explained that he used it frequently on his tours.”
During his two months on the job, he gave Jackson propofol “30 days a month, every day, with the exception of three days leading up to his death,” Murray said.
“Michael Jackson may have a had a dependency to the substance,” Murray said. “I was trying to wean him off.”
The morning of the day Jackson died was after a third night of trying to wean Jackson from the drug, he said.
Murray described a long, restless night and morning for the pop icon, that began with the use of a series of sedatives — lorazepam and midazolam — without effect, Murray said.
Jackson found brief sleep early that day using meditation, but at 10 a.m. — after eight hours of frustrated efforts — Jackson begged for propofol, Murray said.
“He said, ‘I’d like to have some milk, please, please give me some.”
By 10:40 a.m., Murray said he gave in.
“So, I agreed at that time that I would switch over to the propofol, and I would give small amounts that would help him to sleep,” Murray told detectives.
“I loved Mr. Jackson,” the doctor added. “He was my friend, and he opened up to me, and I wanted to help him as much as I can.”
On the recording, Murray insisted he kept a close watch on Jackson after he finally fell asleep. The physician never mentioned the long list of e-mails and calls that cell phone records later revealed.
The doctor said he left the room for about two minutes to visit the toilet. When he returned, he realized his patient had stopped breathing, Murray said.
“Immediately, I felt for a pulse and I was able to get a pulse in the femoral region,” he said. “His body was warm. There was no change in color, so I assumed that everything happened quickly.”
Murray told police he immediately started one-handed CPR on the bed alternately with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Jackson.
“I couldn’t lift him off the bed by myself,” Murray said. “What I did was to improvise. His bed is fairly firm, so I got my left hand under his body and I compressed with my hand not moving in place.”
Jackson security chief Alberto Alvarez, the first person to join Murray in the effort, testified that he questioned Murray’s knowledge of CPR techniques because he was trained to put a patient on a hard surface and use two hands.
Murray said he did not call 911 for help immediately because he expected answering the emergency operator’s questions would take too much time away from the resuscitation efforts.
Instead, he ran down the stairs and shouted for the chef to summon help, and he placed a call to Jackson’s personal assistant, Michael Amir Williams, to ask that he send a security guard upstairs, Murray said.
Murray said he tried his best to revive Jackson.
The second half of Murray’s interview will be played in court Tuesday morning, when jurors return after the Columbus Day holiday.
Earlier Friday, Murray’s lawyers questioned the coroner’s toxicologist in their effort to convince jurors that the sedative lorazepam, not the surgical anesthetic propofol, was the drug most responsible for Michael Jackson’s death.
Toxicologist Dan Anderson testified Friday morning that while all blood and urine samples collected in Jackson’s autopsy were tested for propofol, the coroner’s office did not test all of them for lorazepam levels.
“I think it has its importance but it was not the red flag that caught my eye,” Anderson said Friday. “Propofol in any case that we handle is important, probably more important than any other drugs that we deal with.”
The Los Angeles County coroner concluded Jackson’s June 25, 2009, death was caused by “acute propofol intoxication” in combination with sedatives, including lorazepam.
Lawyers for Murray contend Jackson swallowed eight lorazepam pills and self-administered a dosage of propofol while Murray was not watching. The result, they contend, was near instant death for the pop icon.
Prosecutors contend the high level of propofol found in Jackson’s blood was the result of Murray’s reckless use of a makeshift IV system with no monitoring equipment to put Jackson to sleep with the drug.
Jurors Thursday and Friday heard about the drugs found in Jackson’s blood. The scientific evidence, presented by a coroner’s toxicologist, is tedious and often hard to follow, but is the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case.
Jurors who will decide if Murray is criminally responsible for Jackson’s fatal overdose appeared to pay close attention as they took notes while Anderson detailed the lab results from Jackson’s autopsy Thursday. Anderson returned to the witness stand the next morning for more defense cross-examination.
A higher level of lorazepam was measured in Jackson’s stomach contents than in the blood from his heart and leg, defense lawyer Michael Flanagan noted as he questioned Anderson.
“The concentration is about four times as concentrated in the stomach as it is in the blood. You think that’s an important number?” Flanagan asked.
“Not really,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s oral administration.”
Along with propofol, Lidocaine and lorazepam, tests of blood taken from Jackson’s heart and leg also tested positive for Midazolam and Diazepam, drugs commonly used to alleviate anxiety or induce sleep.
Jackson did not have Demerol in his blood, which is significant because of the defense contention that Dr. Arnold Klein addicted Jackson to the painkiller in frequent visits to his Beverly Hills dermatology clinic in the weeks before his death, without Murray knowing.
Defense lawyer Ed Chernoff said in his opening statement that Jackson was unable to sleep because he was going through withdrawal from Demerol since he had not visited Klein for several days.
Murray’s fingerprint was found on the 100-milliliter propofol bottle that coroner’s investigator Elissa Fleak testified Thursday she found inside a saline bag that had been sliced open. The prosecutor contends it was that bottle that contained the drug that killed Jackson.
Prosecutors argue that Murray, who was Jackson’s personal doctor as he prepared for planned comeback concerts, is criminally responsible for the singer’s death because of medical negligence and his reckless use of the propofol to help Jackson sleep.
If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Murray could spend four years in a California prison and lose his medical license.