FIRST PRELIMINARY HEARING: DDA WALGREN'S OPENING STATEMENT AND KENNY ORTEGA'S TESTIMONY

The following information is based on the OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT of the trial, which is illegal to publish in its entirety.

On January 4th, 2011, the first day of the preliminary hearing, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren presented the case with the following opening statement:

Michael Jackson was getting ready for one of the most important tours of his life, the so-called “This Is It” Tour, which would have taken place in London starting in July of 2009. He was busy with rehearsals at the Staples Center in the late afternoons and evenings. Despite the fact that an official contract had not been defined, Conrad Murray was employed as Michael's personal physician. Murray would go to Michael's home in the late evening, at midnight, or at one o'clock in the morning. According to that which Murray has declared, Michael Jackson was under his care for at least six weeks. According to the same declaration made by Murray, he was administering Propofol to Michael Jackson at least six nights per week.

Propofol is a powerful anesthetic used before surgery. There is no indication for Propofol to be used for the treatment of insomnia.

Tuesday (June 23, 2009), Michael rehearsed at the Staples Center. He was “optimistic” and “energetic”. Everyone present was struck by Michael's strength.
Wednesday (June 24, 2009), another great rehearsal session. Michael left the Staples Center “very optimistic about the future”. When Michael arrived at his home the security personnel noticed Murray's car parked in the driveway. They assumed that Murray was in the house.
The evidence will prove that Michael was already dead long before the paramedics arrived.

There were only two people in the house: Michael and Murray. Michael was deceased.

The evidence will reveal Murray's distraction and carelessness.
A witness will testify that during a phone call made at 11:51 am which lasted 10-11 minutes, the call was interrupted by Murray. The witness (Sade Anding) heard some noises in the background on Murray's end of the line. She hung up and tried to call Murray back, but was unable to reach him. The prosecution believes that this took place at the moment in which Murray realized that Michael was not breathing, but also believes that Michael stopped breathing much earlier.
Instead of calling 911, Murray called Michael's assistant, Michael Amir Williams, at 12:13 pm. He left a message asking that Mr. Williams call him back immediately. Mr. Williams called Murray back at 12:15 pm. Murray told him, “Michael had a bad reaction, come here immediately.”
Mr. Williams called Faheem Muhammad, who was at MJ's house, but had stepped out to go to the bank.
After he realized that Faheem Muhammad was not on the property, Mr. William's called Alberto Alvarez at 12:17 am.
Alberto Alvarez saw Murray perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on a soft bed and with one hand.
At this critical moment, instead of asking Alvarez to call 911 immediately, Murray told him to gather the pharmaceuticals and the saline IV drip.

Only after everything was cleaned up did Murray ask Alvarez to call 911.
The phone call made at 11:51 am lasted approximately 11 minutes, which means that Murray was aware of Michael's situation at around noon. That means that he waited at least 21 minutes before calling 911.

The paramedics were called at 12:22 pm and they arrived at 12:26 pm. Their first observation was that Michael's eyes were motionless and dilated. Michael was asystole (he had no heart beat). The paramedics asked Murray, “what was his initial medical condition?” Murray replied, “He was dehydrated, exhausted from rehearsals. There was no initial medical condition.”
The paramedics asked Murray about the pharmaceuticals which he had given to Michael. Murray mentioned only Lorazepam. He said nothing about the Propofol, “obviously this information would have been very useful to the doctors at UCLA hospital who subsequently cared for Michael. If they had been fully informed regarding Dr. Murray's actions, they would have been able to act accordingly.”
The paramedics were in constant communication with the emergency line at UCLA hospital. After the sodium bicarbonate was ineffective and the adrenaline and atropine treatments failed, the doctors at UCLA hospital wanted to proclaim the time of death of the patient at 12:57 pm.
Murray refused to do so. UCLA hospital doctors asked Murray to take over the care of the patient.

At 1:07 pm Michael was transported to UCLA hospital, where he arrived at 1:13 pm.
The medical personnel at UCLA hospital, Dr. Cooper and Dr. Nguyen, assumed control of Michael's care.
Dr. Cooper and Dr. Nguyen asked Murray what he had administered to Michael so that “they could be better informed in order to treat Michael and try to save his life.” Murray told them that he had administered Lorazepam and that Michael “may have taken” Flomax and Valium.

At 2:26 pm Michael was declared dead.
The next day the Los Angeles police tried unsuccessfully to reach Murray.
On June 29th, 2011 the police recorded Murray's statements.
The evidence will prove that “Dr. Murray actions deviated drastically from that which is considered standard care.”

The following facts determined Michael Jackson's death:

  • the Propofol was administered in a domestic environment and in the absence of adequate monitoring equipment;

  • Propofol is not used to treat insomnia;

  • the Propofol was administered together with doses of benzodiazepine, the effect of which increases the impact of Propofol;

  • Dr. Murray abandoned his patient;

  • Dr. Murray performed ineffective CPR;

  • Dr. Murray did not call 911 in a timely manner;

  • Dr. Murray did not keep clinical records;

  • Dr. Murray did not inform the paramedics or the UCLA hospital doctors of the pharmaceuticals he had administered to Michael.

The first person to take the witness stand for the prosecution was KENNY ORTEGA, co-producer and co-artistic director of This Is It, the concert series for Michael's last live performances which were to take place at the O2 Arena in London and were scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2009.

Ortega was also the first to reveal himself as a liar.

At this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PUgdBcjrlo&feature=player_embedded we can see one of the many videos in which, at the end of October 2009, Ortega talks about the film This Is It, the documentary created from the footage taken during rehearsals for Michael's concerts and shown in movie theaters worldwide from the beginning of November. Ortega denies that Michael was unwell in any way during these rehearsals, describing him as absolutely enthusiastic, happy, and in perfect physical form considering his age and the effort required of him to perform.

But in the courtroom Ortega made statements which contradict every one of the interviews that he gave at the time that the film was released.

To Deputy District Attorney Walgren's questions, Ortega replied that he remembered meeting Michael for the fist time in 1991, a meeting which gave way to his professional relationship with Michael for the 1992 Dangerous Tour, as director of choreography. His collaboration with Michael for the This is It tour began in April 2009, with 3-4 meetings per week during the creative process and 4-5 meetings per week once the production got under way.

Michael was busy with rehearsals in the late afternoon/evening, approximately four times per week, for about six hours per day.

According to Ortega, Michael was enthusiastic about the tour and thought that his children were old enough to enjoy it. He also wanted to do it for “the fans who had remained so loyal throughout the years.” Michael wanted to use his art “to remind people of how important it is to take care of our planet and of each other.”

After 50 concerts in London, Michael wanted to go international, with concerts in countries like India and Japan.
“Once the tour was over, Michael wanted to go home and work with me as a film director.”

On June 19th, 2009 he was worried about Michael's physical state when he appeared at the Staples for the rehearsal: “He didn't appear well at all. HE WAS CHILLED AND SOFT SPOKEN.”

Michael decided not to rehearse, having the choreographers stand in for him and sitting in the audience with Ortega to observe.

Ortega understood that Michael was in no condition to be at the rehearsal. “He seemed to be lost. It was scary. I couldn't understand why. I didn't know exactly what was wrong, but I knew there was something going on. I told him: Michael, do you really feel this the best place for you to be or would you rather go home and be with your family? And he said: Would you be okay with that? I told him: Absolutely. And he left.”

Ortega had never seen Michael in that condition.

The next day, June 20th, 2009, there was a meeting at Michael's house at which Ortega, Frank Di Leo (Michael's alleged manager), Randy Phillips (AEG's Chief Executive for the concerts), and Conrad Murray were present.

Ortega had met Murray at Michael's house one day in April or May of 2009. He had been there for a creative meeting with Michael. Murray was there and Michael introduced them.

It seemed to Ortega that the meeting had been called because of him, that it had to do with him, but he didn't know who had been the one to call the meeting. Murray was angry with him for having sent Michael home. He admonished Ortega, telling him that Michael's physical and psychological state was fine and that Michael was perfectly capable of handling his responsibilities towards the show. He reminded Ortega that it wasn't up to him to make decisions of that kind because Ortega was not Michael's doctor and to let him [Murray] take care of Michael's health. Ortega said that he replied to Murray that, in his opinion, the day before Michael had not been sufficiently healthy to be on stage, and that if he had forced himself to rehearse it could have been dangerous for him and that, in any case, it had been Michael's choice to go home.

After that meeting, rehearsal was scheduled for Tuesday, June 23rd 2009. Both the June 23rd rehearsal and the next days' rehearsal went very well. Michael was very excited about the rehearsal scheduled for Thursday, June 25th, 2009 because they were supposed to rehearse a number involving illusion.

On June 25th, 2009 Randy Phillips was going to pick up Michael to bring him to the rehearsal. “They were meeting for some reason then he was going to bring him to rehearsals.”

Ortega called Randy to tell him, “Please, let Michael know how excited I feel. I am looking forward to rehearsing this afternoon.” Randy said, “I thought you were calling for a different reason. I'm at Michael's house and there's an ambulance leaving the property.”

“We were headed for greatness and that Michael's vision was going to be accomplished but at times I questioned. Michael didn't always show up. He had a period of time when he was missing. It created anxiety for me. It was difficult to move forward without Michael's involvement. On June 19th, 2009 "Michael didn't seem present as he normally was.”

 

Cross-examination by Murray's lawyer, Ed Chernoff

Suspended question: “Would you agree with me that the people that were present at the meeting wasn't exactly indicative of a meeting you have when someone gets sick for a day?”

Question: “The conversation at the meeting on June 20th was about the fact that Jackson had been sick on frequent occasions and had been missing rehearsals. Do you remember that conversation?” Ortega replies, “No.”

Question: “Do you remember three weeks prior to that meeting, you had the same type of meeting at Mr. Jackson's residence and the same members were present at that meeting?” Ortega replies, “No.”

Question: “Do you recall there was some conversation with AEG about him missing rehearsals?” Ortega replies, “Yes.”

Question: “There was quite a lot of concern about that” Ortega replies, “From my perspective, yes.”

Question: “Do you recall yelling at Michael on June 20th meeting, telling him that he needed to get back to the show?” Ortega replies, “No.”

Question: “Do you recall having a conversation with Karen Faye after the June 20th meeting, about how she should treat Michael?” Ortega doesn't remember.

Question: “When did you start filming for This Is It movie?" Ortega replies, “We didn't film for that documentary. Michael was filming for his own personal use.”

Question: “So are you saying that from the months of April, May, and June there is camera footage of every single rehearsal?” Ortega sidesteps a direct answer, “Those were for Michael's personal use.” Chernoff, “So they exist somewhere?” Ortega, “Yes.” Chernoff, “Where?” Ortega, “There weren't always cameras rolling. It was always IF he asked.”

On the afternoon of June 25th, 2009 Paul Gonaware called Ortega from the hospital.

There was a period of time, "accumulated days" about a week in early June 2009 that Michael missed rehearsals.

Ortega claims that he did not yell at Michael during the June 20th meeting, but that “we were emotional. Michael told me 'I know you love me and care for me, I know you're looking out for my best interest, but you don't have to worry. I'm fine. I can handle this.'” His voice calmed Ortega who stepped back. Michael hugged Ortega and said, “Don't worry. We can do this and we will.” Ortega claims even if he did yell, it was out of caring.

Michael was scheduled to arrive at  4:00 or 4:30 pm on June 25th, 2009.

 

ANALYSIS OF KENNY ORTEGA'S TESTMONY:

Ortega's testimony during the preliminary hearing doesn't paint the picture of one who is extraordinarily happy and excited by the prospect of returning to the stage, as Ortega had described Michael to be right after his death. In front of the judge Ortega spoke of a man too weak and fragile to even get through a rehearsal session. One asks oneself how he would have made it through an actual concert in front of an audience.

But Ortega's contradictions don't end here.

In fact, he added that June 23rd and 24th were two excellent rehearsal days and that Michael was happy and well. Of the June 23rd rehearsal he said, “It was the Michael that we all knew. He was in a fantastic mood and we had a great day.” Regarding his last conversation with Michael he said, “He told me that he was very very happy. That the dream was in arm's reach. He told me to tell everyone how much he cared about them and how much he appreciated their hard work.”

Therefore, according to his testimony, on June 19th, 2009 Michael was so ill that he could barely stand up, and on June 23rd he was in top form. Of course one can choose to believe that in four days Michael was able to fully recover his health, but from Ortega's blog it's possible to trace back to 24 hours before Michael was forced to go home, or rather to the rehearsal session of June 18th, 2009, a day which he described as brilliant.

(http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=112835465428699&v=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=494444648554&set=o.112835465428699&pid=5834765&id=682258554).

One must also keep in mind that period of time in which Michael missed rehearsals with no explanation.

Therefore, if it's plausible to believe that Ortega supported the case against Murray, which underscored the fact that Michael was NOT ill in the days immediately prior to his death caused by the doctor, then it is not as easy to explain how it's possible that from the brilliant rehearsal of June 18th, Michael was suddenly unable to stand up on June 19th, and how Ortega had always asserted, after Michael's death, that Michael was in perfect health, and now talks about missed rehearsals (not knowing the reason for them), which prevented the show from moving forward.

When did Ortega lie? In the period immediately following Michael's death or on January 4th, 2011 under oath? Or both times? And why did he lie? Is he still lying even now?

Kenny Ortega was certainly very close to Michael for many years. The Dangerous Tour of 1992-1993 and the History Tour of 1996-1997 were the first great fruits of their artistic relationship. Nonetheless, during the charity concert Michael Jackson and Friends in June of 1999 in Munich there was a dangerous accident during the performance of Earth Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CnZpcwm0FM. Suspended in the air on a mechanical ramp, something went wrong and the lift fell rapidly to the ground, injuring Michael's back and thorax and causing him enormous pain.

Kenny Ortega was responsible for this accident as he was the concert supervisor, but he quickly left Germany without even apologizing to Michael, and from that moment their relationship began to deteriorate.

It would seem that Ortega finally apologized to Michael when he was contacted for This Is It. But clearly this was not a heartfelt apology because if it were he would have told the truth then, or at least he would begin to tell the truth now. Instead, Ortega has, in these very days, left certain documents at the Los Angeles court along with a request of exoneration from the lawsuit which Katherine Jackson began in September 2010 against AEG, and therefore also against him as employee of that same company in the role of artistic director. The lawsuit has to do with the responsibility, attributable to all working for AEG in their knowledge of the conditions which brought about Michael's death, a responsibility which Ortega denies, claiming simply that he had nothing to do with the administering of pharmaceuticals to Michael.

And lastly, there is one more reason to question Ortega's reliability: when cross-examined by Edward Chernoff (defence attorney for Conrad Murray), he denied ever having any sort of conversation with Karen Faye (Michael's make-up artist for This Is It) regarding the June 20th meeting at Michael's house. Chernoff asked him if he remembered having told Faye that he reprimanded Michael and that he had not been able to reconcile with him, but Ortega replied that he did not remember any conversation with Karen Faye, who continues to claim otherwise and calls Kenny Ortega a liar.

Sources: http://sprocket-trials.blogspot.com/2011/01/dr-conrad-murray-prelim-day-1-part-1.html

http://muzikfactorytwo.blogspot.com/2011/06/conrad-murray-trial-based-on-official.html

Update:

During the June 16th, 2011 hearing another lie by K. Ortega emerged: apparently the cameras that were filming the rehearsals were far more than two.

Previously he had claimed that they were two in order to underscore the fact that their purpose was exclusively to record footage for Michael's personal use and not for an actual film. Instead, in the preliminary hearing of June 16th, as mentioned, it emerged that there were far more than that:

http://teammichaeljackson.com/people-vs-conrad-murray-june-16th-2011

 

In italian: http://www.truth4mj.it/mj/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=67:analisi-delle-udienze-preliminari-per-lomicidio-di-michael-kenny-ortega&catid=41:people-vs-murray&Itemid=71

 

Translated to English by: Jessica O.

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