Doctor queried in Michael Jackson death, 2nd autopsy held
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles police on Saturday again questioned Michael Jackson's doctor, while the family of the pop music icon ordered its own private autopsy two days after his death shocked fans around the world.
Jackson's father issued a statement urging fans not to despair because the singer "will continue to live on in each and every one of you."
The family sought a second autopsy -- the official one was conducted on Friday -- amid reports about the 50-year-old singer's reliance on prescription medications.
Jackson's personal physician, Texas cardiologist Dr. Conrad Murray, who was with the singer when he collapsed at his rented mansion on Thursday, hired an attorney to accompany him to what was expected to be a lengthy meeting with the Los Angeles Police Department late on Saturday.
"Dr. Murray is considered to be a witness to the events surrounding Michael Jackson's death and he is not a suspect," Houston law firm Stradley, Chernoff & Alford said in a statement.
"Dr. Murray hired legal counsel to help guide him through the police investigation process. The law firm was hired to make sure the police investigation is conducted properly."
An LAPD spokeswoman said she had no updates on the meeting, three hours after it was scheduled to begin.
According to media reports, Jackson was injected with the narcotic painkiller Demerol shortly before he went into cardiac arrest. Murray was desperately trying to revive Jackson when paramedics arrived, and he rode with the singer in an ambulance to the hospital where the pop star was pronounced dead.
The official autopsy, conducted on Friday, failed to determine what killed Jackson, pending toxicology tests that were expected to take up to six weeks. Such tests could reveal the presence of drugs in his system.
The celebrity website TMZ.com, which first broke the news of Jackson's death, reported that the second autopsy took place at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, on the orders of the Jackson family.
'DID HE INJECT HIM?'
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has been serving as a spokesman for the singer's family, told ABC News the family also had questions for Murray. Jackson is not related to the singer's family.
"When did the doctor come? What did he do? Did he inject him? If so, with what?" he said in an interview with ABC.
Michael Jackson's father, Joseph, issued a statement through People magazine, calling his son's death "one of the darkest moments of our lives."
He added: "We miss Michael endlessly, our pain cannot be described in words. ... But please do not despair, because Michael will continue to live on in each and every one of you."
He reportedly sent moving vans to empty his son's mansion in the upscale Holmby Hills neighborhood, concerned that items would be stolen. The singer's younger sister, Janet, spent several hours at the estate, which city records show is worth $20 million and owned by a trust linked to apparel mogul Herbert Guez.
Jackson's parents, siblings and three young children were in seclusion at the family compound in the Los Angeles suburb of Encino, as distraught fans from around the world gathered outside its brick walls.
Jackson's body is being held at an undisclosed mortuary after the coroner returned it to the family on Friday evening. Funeral plans have not been announced.
"We need something where we can mourn and celebrate his life, say our goodbyes," said Donna Green, a 44-year-old resident of Las Vegas who once ran a Jackson fan club.
(Additional reporting by Laura Isensee and Dean Goodman; Editing by Will Dunham)