Everywhere late King of Pop Michael Jackson went in life, he was photographed and followed by the paparazzi. So it's no surprise that even in death, the musical icon could not escape the scrutiny of the prying tabloid press and his rabid fans.
In the third day of testimony in the preliminary hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray, a paramedic who responded to a 911 call to Jackson's rented Los Angeles mansion on June 25, 2009, said the ambulance's path to the hospital was blocked by photographers and Jackson fans who were gathered outside the singer's home that morning.
Murray, who was hired to be Jackson's personal physician in the lead-up to the singer's attempted This Is It comeback concerts in London, has been charged with a felony count of involuntary manslaughter in the case.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles City Fire Department paramedic Richard Senneff said he could not believe the mad scene outside Jackson's Holmby Hills mansion last June. "It's a circus out there. It's unbelievable," he recalled thinking in the hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to bring Murray to trial. Senneff said the ambulance driver had trouble getting away from the home because of the huge crowd outside that included a tour bus and a variety of photographers.
"It just seemed wrong," he said, describing how one man holding a video camera ran alongside the ambulance holding his long lens against the window of the emergency vehicle. When questioned by a defense lawyer, Senneff said Murray had wanted to put a "central line" — a large catheter placed in a large vein in the neck or chest — in an attempt to restart Jackson's heart, but the paramedics did not have the equipment or training to pull off the procedure.
Earlier testimony by bodyguards claimed that Murray had improperly administered CPR to Jackson after finding the singer unresponsive, did not appear to know how to give the life-saving treatment and then requested that another guard round up medical evidence before calling 911.
Senneff said Jackson did not respond to two rounds of drugs meant to revive him and that hospital officials told him over the ambulance radio to "call" Jackson's death but that neither he nor Murray wanted to do it, despite the fact that Jackson appeared to be dead when they arrived. He described Jackson not having a pulse, cold legs and dry eyes and said the paramedics' heart monitor showed the performer had "flatlined." When Murray was asked how long Jackson had been unresponsive, CNN reported that Senneff testified Murray told him it "just happened," an account the paramedic said "didn't add up."
Jackson was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center a short time later, and Senneff said rescue workers had gone "above and beyond" the call of duty in the field to try and revive Jackson, not because he was a celebrity, but because "it was someone's son."
In further damaging testimony, Judge Michael Pastor heard from another paramedic who, like Senneff, said Murray did not initially tell them that he had given Jackson medications. A police investigation found that Murray had administered a variety of sedatives to Jackson in the hours before the singer's death, including doses of the powerful anesthetic propofol.
Paramedic Martin Blount said the denial about what medications he'd given Jackson struck him as strange because he saw hypodermic needles and three bottles of the anesthetic lidocaine in the pop star's room. Murray, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, "scooped up" the bottles and put them in a bag before leaving for the hospital.
In other testimony, TMZ reported that two phone company representatives reported that in the hours before and after Jackson's death, Murray texted and phoned a number of people, but never dialed 911.
According to accounts of Jackson's final hours, Murray left the singer's side to go to the bathroom just before 11 a.m. and when he returned, he found him unresponsive. Records read in court show that Murray was sending and receiving multiple texts every few minutes after the discovery, but that he did not inform a Jackson bodyguard to call 911 until after 12:20 p.m.