Spokeswoman: Jackson cardiologist not a suspect
AP Music Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The cardiologist who was with Michael Jackson when he collapsed is “in no way a suspect” in the pop singer’s death, a spokeswoman for the doctor said Saturday after a three-hour interview with detectives.
Dr. Conrad Murray “helped identify the circumstances around the death of the pop icon and clarified some inconsistencies,” spokeswoman Miranda Sevcik said in a statement. “Investigators say the doctor is in no way a suspect and remains a witness to this tragedy.”
Police confirmed that they interviewed Murray, adding that he was cooperative and “provided information which will aid the investigation.”
The statement said Murray rode in the ambulance and stayed at the hospital for hours, “comforting and consoling the Jackson family.” It also said he has been in Los Angeles since Jackson’s death, and plans to stay here until his cooperation is no longer needed.
Murray was with Jackson when the singer stopped breathing Thursday, and reportedly performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
News of the meeting came a few hours after the Rev. Jesse Jackson said the pop star’s family is seeking a second autopsy of the pop icon because of unanswered questions about how he died.
“It’s abnormal,” he said from Chicago a day after visiting the Jackson family. “We don’t know what happened. Was he injected and with what? All reasonable doubt should be addressed.”
People close to Jackson have said since his death that they were concerned about the superstar’s use of painkillers. Los Angeles County medical examiners completed their autopsy Friday and said Jackson had taken prescription medication.
Medical officials also said there was no indication of trauma or foul play. An official cause of death could take weeks.
The coroner’s office released the body to Jackson’s family Friday night. There was no immediate word on whether the second autopsy was being performed right away. Jesse Jackson described the family as grief-stricken.
“They’re hurt because they lost a son. But the wound is now being kept open by the mystery and unanswered questions of the cause of death,” he said.
One of Jackson’s longtime lawyers was chosen to represent the family’s legal interests, a person close to the situation said Saturday. Katherine Jackson, the singer’s mother, selected L. Londell McMillan, who has represented Jackson in several cases, said the person, who requested anonymity because the matter is private.
Two days after Jackson died at a Los Angeles hospital, sisters Janet and La Toya arrived at the mansion Jackson had been renting. They left without addressing reporters.
Moving vans also showed up at the Jackson home, leaving about an hour later. There was no indication what they might have taken away.
The Jackson family issued a statement Saturday expressing its grief over the death and thanking his supporters.
“In one of the darkest moments of our lives we find it hard to find the words appropriate to this sudden tragedy we all had to encounter,” said the statement made through People magazine. “We miss Michael endlessly.”
The Jackson family did not respond to a request for comment from the AP.
There was also no word from the family on funeral plans. Many of Jackson’s relatives have gathered at the family’s Encino compound, caring there for Jackson’s three children.
A person close to the family told the AP they feel upset and angry about a lack of information about those who were around the pop superstar in his final days. The person requested anonymity because of the delicate nature of the situation.
Jackson had been rehearsing for 50 London concerts aimed at restoring his crown as the King of Pop. He died Thursday at age 50 after what his family said appeared to be cardiac arrest.
Police towed Murray’s car from Jackson’s home hours after Jackson died and said later it could contain medication or other evidence. Coroner’s officials also said Jackson was taking prescription medication but declined to elaborate.
Murray lives in Las Vegas but apparently left his practice and moved in with Jackson about two weeks ago. No one answered the door Saturday at his Las Vegas home, which property records show Murray bought five years ago for $1.1 million.
The promoter of the series of London concerts that Jackson was to begin next month has said Jackson personally insisted Murray be on the payroll.
Also Saturday, spiritual teacher Dr. Deepak Chopra said he had been concerned since 2005 that Jackson was abusing prescription painkillers and most recently spoke to the pop star about suspected drug use six months ago.
Chopra said Jackson, a longtime friend, asked him for painkillers in 2005 when the singer was staying with him following his trial on sex abuse allegations. Chopra said he refused. He also said the nanny of Jackson’s children repeatedly contacted him with concerns about Jackson’s drug use over the next four years.
He said she told him a number of doctors would visit Jackson’s homes in Santa Barbara County, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Whenever the subject came up, Jackson would avoid his calls, Chopra said.
Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen in Chicago, Juan A. Lozano in Houston, and Gillian Flaccus, Brooke Donald, Beth Harris and Mike Blood and AP Global Media Services Production Manager Nico Maounis in Los Angeles contributed to this report.