News24

MJ's last day - a timeline

2010-06-21 09:06

Los Angeles - A year ago, the world watched as Michael Jackson balanced on the edge of a precipice. Behind the once-proclaimed King of Pop was a bleak stretch of pain and artistic decline. Ahead lay a series of 50 London concerts - a high-rolling bid to reassert his musical brilliance and re-establish control of his life.

Jackson was poised for a great leap of faith, one testing himself and those who believed in him. It was a chance to silence detractors who had mocked his increasingly clownish, artificial appearance and what appeared to be an equally artificial and veiled version of family life with the three children he was raising alone.

Harsher critics cast him as a man who used wealth and celebrity to elude justice on child molestation charges.

The elaborately staged shows set to begin last July 13 at London's famed O2 Arena represented winner take all, or lose all, for an entertainer who'd been famous for most of his 50 years.

He was ready. The audience was ready. Then he was gone. Less than three weeks before his new life may have started on a stage filled with special effects and song, the old one ended in a cloud of drugs and unfulfilled dreams.

Outwardly strong and fit

Outwardly, Jackson had seemed fit as he prepared for the London shows, and his autopsy found he was in relatively strong physical condition for a man his age.

But privately, he was struggling with chronic insomnia that he battled with a regular regimen of powerful drugs.

In the year since Jackson's shockingly abrupt death on June 25, 2009, from an overdose of sedatives, a fuller picture of his last day has emerged. What follows is a comprehensive reconstruction of those final 24 hours by The Associated Press.

Exactly what happened during that time may never be known, as the only person with him was his personal physician, Dr Conrad Murray, who administered a series of drugs to help his patient sleep. Murray is due to stand trial later this year on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.

But witness accounts and court documents agree: Jackson's final day started off like many others.

Last meal

Early in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 24, Michael Jackson came down the stairs of his rented mansion and sat with his children for what would be their last meal together.

He had a rehearsal later that night so he wanted to eat something light but sustaining. His personal chef, Kai Chase, prepared seared ahi tuna with an organic salad and a glass of carrot and orange juice.

"He smiled and put his hands together for a prayer," Chase said. "He said, 'Thank you, God bless you."'

The singer, Chase recalled, looked well, seemed energised and was in a good mood.

In good shape

Shortly before 19:00, Jackson left his eight-bedroom mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills, an exclusive Los Angeles neighbourhood sandwiched between Bel-Air and Beverly Hills.

He got into the back of a navy-blue Escalade driven by bodyguard Faheen Muhammad. His personal assistant, Michael Amir Williams, sat in the front.

They travelled downtown to the Staples Centre, where Jackson and his team of musicians and dancers were in final rehearsals before heading to London. Jackson's logistics director, Alberto Alvarez, met the Escalade and drove Jackson in a golf cart to his dressing room.

Several people recalled Jackson being in good shape that night.

"He was completely enthused," said Dorian Holley, Jackson's longtime vocal director and a singer for the upcoming "This Is It" shows. "It was hard to discern any difference between his energy and his physicality between then and his earlier days."

Jackson went through several classic numbers, including Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, and She's Out of My Life.

With an enormous monitor installed onstage, Jackson for the first time was shown video accompaniments to some of these songs, said Holley, who was standing beside Jackson during the rehearsal.

"It was eye-popping," Holley said. "He was grinning from ear to ear."

Thriller

Tim Patterson, one of two cameramen who shot footage of the rehearsals and later helped edit it into the film This Is It, recalled that Jackson was especially wowed by a 3D segment on Thriller where a crystal ball floats out toward the audience.

"I remember Michael reached out and grabbed it," Patterson said. "He loved it."

Later that night, Jackson and his dancers performed Thriller on stage in full costume for the first time.

"His face said it all, he loved it," said Kriyss Grant, one of the dancers Jackson picked for the show.

Ken Ehrlich, an executive producer of the Grammys, went to the Staples Centre to discuss with Jackson a Halloween special. Afterward, Ehrlich watched from the stadium floor as the rehearsal continued.

"He was really in good shape, he was very excited about the tour, very excited about getting it going," Ehrlich said. "He certainly didn't exhibit any signs of being tired or not being with it."

Fatigue

The rehearsal ended around midnight Wednesday night with a performance of Earth Song. The singer hugged his dancers, thanked the crew and wished them a good night. "God bless you," Patterson and Grant recalled him saying.

Jackson returned to Carolwood Drive, stopping briefly at its metal gate to greet a small group of fans who had gathered outside his home.

As they pulled into the driveway, the bodyguard Muhammad noticed Dr  Murray's car parked outside the home, just as it had been many nights previously.

Jackson's security personnel escorted him into the house and to the foot of the stairs. No one, except for Murray and Jackson's children, was allowed upstairs.

Soon after Jackson arrived home, he started complaining of fatigue and that he needed sleep.

Concern

Murray, according to a police affidavit, was concerned Jackson was addicted to propofol, a powerful anaesthetic normally used only in medical settings with special equipment on hand. He told police he was trying to wean Jackson from propofol and had not given him the drug for two nights.

At around 01:30 on Thursday, June 25, he again tried this approach, giving Jackson a 10mg Valium tablet. The anti-anxiety medication had no immediate effect and about a half hour later, the doctor gave 2mg of lorazepam, another medication from the same family as Valium, administered through a saline drip.

When Jackson remained awake, Murray administered a 2mg dose of midazolam, another sedative, at 03:00, then another 2mg of lorazepam at 05:00.

By 07:30, Jackson remained awake. Murray told police he injected another 2mg of midazolam into Jackson's drip.

Still, Jackson could not sleep.

He lay restlessly on the white sheets of his renaissance-style double bed with a curlicue headboard. Beside him, investigators would later find a porcelain doll in the likeness of a little blond boy. Several oxygen bottles were by the door and on the night stand beside the bed was a stack of DVDs, including children's films.

Authorities would also note how untidy and warm Jackson's living quarters were. Jackson kept his inner sanctum fully heated, even though it was early summer in Los Angeles.

Milk

After experiencing a sleepless night, Murray said Jackson made repeated demands for propofol, a white liquid drug he sometimes would refer to as his "milk." Around 10:40 on Thursday, Murray said he gave in to Jackson's demands and pushed 25mg of the substance into Jackson's drip.

The chronology comes from a June 27 police interview with Murray, though the doctor's lawyer, Ed Chernoff, has contested investigators' interpretation of events. Chernoff declined to comment for this story.

Murray remained with the sedated singer for about 10 minutes, then left for the bathroom, the affidavit stated. Less than two minutes later, Murray returned and found Jackson not breathing.

Phone logs show Murray made at least three calls between 11:18 and 11:51 - to his Las Vegas clinic, a patient, and a friend.

When Murray discovered Jackson was not breathing, he called the personal assistant Williams and at 12:13 left a message saying, "Call me right away, call me right away," according to a statement obtained by AP. Williams called back and Murray said: "Get here right away, Mr Jackson had a bad reaction. He had a bad reaction."

Williams called Muhammad, then Alvarez, who was located in a security trailer outside the house. Alvarez told investigators he rushed upstairs and entered a bedroom to find the singer lying on a bed with his arms outstretched and his eyes and mouth open.

At his side, Murray was administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation with one hand.

"Alberto, Alberto, come quickly," Murray said, according to the statement. "He had a reaction, he had a bad reaction."

In a proposed contract with concert promoter AEG, Murray had asked for a heart resuscitation machine and a nurse as a condition of treating Jackson. Neither was in place when the singer died.

Two of Jackson's children, Prince and Paris, came in the room, crying as they saw Murray trying to save their father. They were quickly escorted outside.

Alvarez told investigators that Murray asked him to pick up a few vials with rubber tops and put them in a bag. It was only after these bottles had been cleared that Murray told Alvarez to call the emergency dispatcher.

"I need an ambulance as soon as possible," Alvarez told a dispatcher. "We have a gentleman here that needs help and he's not breathing."

They put Jackson on the floor, then Muhammad rushed into the room and began helping with chest compressions while Murray attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Pronounced dead

By 12:27 on Thursday, paramedics had arrived. They later wrote Jackson was not breathing and had no pulse at 12:29.

However, Murray stated he could feel a weak pulse in Jackson's upper thigh area, Alvarez and Muhammad said. No one else felt it.

A paramedic report stated that emergency responders tried two rounds of resuscitation attempts and were ready to discontinue treatment, but Murray said he would take responsibility and insisted resuscitation be continued in the ambulance.

The stricken star was taken the short distance to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre at 13:07, when doctors tried a range of resuscitation techniques, including the insertion of a balloon pump designed to move blood around his body.

Jackson was pronounced dead at 14:26.

After the death was called, Murray started crying, Williams told investigators.

He told the Jackson children that their father had passed away, then asked to return to the house.

"Is there any way I can go home, or be taken to the house," the doctor said, according to Alvarez's statement. "I want to get my car, and I'm hungry."

Williams said he didn't think it was a good idea for Murray to return to the house. He spoke to Muhammad and they concocted a story that police had taken all the keys to the vehicles.

Murray indicated he would take a cab, and Williams said he saw him leave the hospital through a side door.

Williams told Muhammad to call security at the home and make sure no one got into the house.

"Lock it down," Williams said.

Comments
  • No Loss - 2010-06-21 10:33

    Stop writing about MJ. Nobody cares any more. Its been written to death. Give us a break why don't you.

  • RealityBytes - 2010-06-21 10:48

    That is a lie. The world didn't "watch". He was a has-been, scarred with numerous scandals and I remember well how Highveld Stereo (among others) had a field day telling Michael Jackson jokes (what is the difference between MJ and a shopping bag? One is made of plastic and dangerous to small children, the other is used to carry groceries in). But as soon as the news of his death spread he became a legend, faultless and everyone's hero. People need to re-evaluate their value system.

  • Marcus - 2010-06-21 11:20

    It's crazy that this guy is still allowed to practice medicine after (what looks like) him causing the death of a patient. Just goes to show you how warped the justice system is in the US.
    Surely it's every doctors' responsibility to ensure their patients are healthy rather than giving them a cocktail of drugs and then something stronger when they demand it! I say make an example of him and lock him up. Maybe other doctors will think twice about doing the same thing in future.

  • grant - 2010-06-21 11:27

    He was a right perv good ridance

  • yatish - 2010-06-21 12:44

    long live der king of pop!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Melanie - 2010-06-21 13:22

    Who are you people to judge? If you have nothing positive to add... dont spill your poison...Do any of us know for sure about the sexual allegations?

  • DIESEL POMP - 2010-06-21 13:38

    R.I.P MICHAEL- YOU STILL ARE THE KING OF POP AND WILL BE FOREVER!!

  • Minnie - 2010-06-21 14:01

    MJ was loved and idolised by many, those who don't agree, shut up, he never needed your support. I can imagine how you cringe everytime so many makes a huge fuss of him ha!!ha!! you miserable misfits.

  • Pruddy - 2010-06-21 14:07

    King of Pop Wacko Jacko.Will surely live forever in our hearts.. We were not there..but God was Watching through the window..No 1 is perfect this is one thing for sure and everyone must remember that,and therefore no 1 is in a position to can Judge.Only God is..

    Long live to the spirit of the greatest entertainer ever lived!!!

  • Sheep - 2010-06-21 14:15

    And here it is once again proven that the media dictates our thinking. Before MJs death, the media told us to think of him as a has-been whose new tour would fail. And we did. After his death the media tells us to think of him as a hero, misunderstood, tortured artist. And we do. Whatever sells the newspapers.

  • thamu - 2010-06-21 14:35

    i agree with Melanie.The king of pop was loved by many and like it or not his memory will always be kept alive.if you're not interest in reading about him....then don't....i for one am very interested in anything that has to do with MJ,he was a superstar...no-one can compare,through his misic he will live forever.

  • Julie - 2010-06-21 14:47

    RIP Michael. We luv u.....we miss u....thank u for your legacy....to the bitchers + moaners....go get a life....FO you idiots, probably don't have anything to be proud of in your own lives so you belittle all others.....I listen to your music in my car EVERY DAY!!!!! We luv you Michael xx

  • JvanD - 2010-06-21 14:59

    They should have locked Conrad Murray up for a long time. MJ was one of the best things this world had to offer.

    I'll miss you Michael.

  • Susan - 2010-06-21 15:51

    I'm not a M J Fan but please leave him alone. His not arund te defend himself and his children are growing up!!!!!

  • RVG - 2010-06-21 16:10

    Gossip - Rumours - Media - this is what ruined MJs spirit. He loved music & people.. yet people trust what they hear & read to dictate one mans fate. His talent & skill was his alone, no one can argue that. His love for children was innocent as grew from his own missed childhood while he selflessly entertained the world with his charisma & love for music. His life was ripped apart by allegations! Allegations mind you which were never proved yet who cared.. all people wanted to was bring him down because according to them he was a freak just because of his appearance. People are so naive & follow each other like sheep. MJ was unique and no matter what will always remain a legend. To all the haters out there.. instead of b!tch!ng about a man you couldn't beat - look at yourself in the mirror.

    MICHAEL.. YOUR MEMORY WILL LIVE FOREVER!!

  • MrsG - 2010-06-21 16:11

    I cant believe a year has gone by! What a sad turn of events :(

  • Oy - 2010-06-21 16:23

    To all those complaining about reading about MJ - DON'T go anywhere near a media outlet this week, you'll only annoy yourselves.

    Seriously, if you didn't like the guy, fair deal - but leave those who did to their choices, and stop shoving yours down their throats. The media isn't shoving it down yours, they are writing it because they know there ARE people out there who wants to keep reading about him. I'm sure no one is holding a gun to your head to click on any link related to MJ.

    On the child molestation allegations ... you're right we'lll never know. And as a fan I'll grant I am biased. This is though, for those of us that were paying attention the first time, the allegations already seemed fishy. The second time around the allegations just seemed ridiculous - a fact that stood out again and again during the trial (I read the daily reports on Eonline) and the prosecuters and accusers kept catching themselves out on lies. After awhile I found that very amusing - all the defense (and MJ) had to do was sit there and stare. The other okes shot themselves in more than just the foot. (Apparently since 1993 the FBI had also been investigating MJ - continually until his death, and could never find any evidence.) So whether that convinces you to come over to our side or not, at the very least it has to make you think.

    Conrad Murray made a fatal error. I don't know if he meant MJ harm, but his actions were harmful. I don't think Dr Murray is the devil himself, and I am in on position to judge what should be done with him. BUT there is one thing about this report that bugs me: For a year now, it has been told, and retold, that the person that had to face MJ's kids and tell them their dad had died was Frank Dileo, longtime friend and manager to MJ, and NOT Dr. Murray. So how much of this now suddenly available side of Dr. Murray's story is true is ... well questionable at best.

  • - 2010-06-21 16:36

    Love u MJ, RIP. Hope to meet u in heaven 1dy(when im 90). Always have and always will be a fan. Murray needs to be locked up, if he called emergency earlier MJ would still be alive!

  • Ben - 2010-06-21 18:36

    Who are we to judge, is there a living human being without fault and if so they are too good and holly for the Almighty God to die for them because we all have sinned. MJ rest in peace.

  • ExileOnMainStreet @NoLoss & RealityBites - 2010-06-21 19:30

    MJ is a legend and was a musical/dance genius..something you two miserable cretins could never be...There were allegations against him...none were ever proven...so nobody(except you 2 apparently) knows for certain whether they were true or not...Most geniuses are misunderstood and he was one of them. Don't believe all you read in the tabloid filth.

  • preshen govender - 2010-06-22 08:40

    he should of just counted sheep in order to sleep instead of taking the drugs

  • ADRIAN - 2010-06-22 09:47

    TO THE PEEP THAT SAY HE WAS A HAS BEEN YOU HONESTLY DONT NO A THING ABT MUSIC LOOK AT THE MUSIC TODAY IT HAS NO MEANING SAY WHAT YOU LIKE BUT DA O`Z MUSIC IS TOPZ!!
    SOND HE REALEASED YEARS AGO IS STILL JUMPING TODAY

  • Thuli - 2010-06-22 10:24

    MJ is a Legend,Hands down...If he wasn't then we wouldn't be commenting on this blog....No one & No one can ever replace this Maestro...Long live Jacko

  • LPB - 2010-06-23 07:25

    Let us forget this creep.

  • Tsietsi Ya Rona Mokau - 2010-06-23 09:04

    @Thuli, i fully agree with you there...
    MJJ was just too powerful for words, i was reading a book of his unreleased writtings and i can confirm that he was gifted... moan as much as you want, Jackson lived his life to the fullest, changed lives for the better and had so much love for the world... "KING OF POP"

  • bianca - 2010-06-24 14:22

    micheal jackson rocks and will be remembered by so many people. you rock mj

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