Lawyer says Michael Jackson’s doctor did not prescribe Demerol, OxyContin for pop starBy Anthony Mccartney, AP
Monday, June 29, 2009
Lawyer: Jackson’s doc didn’t give excessive drugs
LOS ANGELES — A lawyer for Michael Jackson’s doctor said his client never gave or prescribed Jackson the painkillers Demerol or OxyContin, and denied reports suggesting that the doctor gave the pop star drugs that contributed to his death.
Edward Chernoff said in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press that any drugs that Dr. Conrad Murray gave Jackson were prescribed in response to a specific complaint from Jackson.
“Dr. Murray has never prescribed nor administered Demerol to Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said. “Not ever. Not that day. … Not Oxycontin (either) for that matter.”
Londell McMillan, the Jackson family attorney, said on NBC’s “Today” show Monday that the family was “quite clearly troubled” about the circumstances surrounding the death, given that Jackson had appeared healthy enough to be rehearsing for his upcoming concerts.
Asked whether the family suspected foul play, McMillan said those words were “too strong an indictment.”
Chernoff, also on “Today,” said he didn’t think that his client was “ready for this kind of attack” on his credentials and actions in the case. But he said that “it’s expected, considering the circumstances.”
Once the full investigation is complete, Chernoff said, he expected Murray would be exonerated and the family would feel differently.
Jackson still had a faint pulse and a warm body when Murray found him in bed and not breathing Thursday afternoon, Chernoff said in the AP interview.
Chernoff said Murray was at the pop icon’s rented mansion when he discovered Jackson in bed and not breathing. The doctor immediately began administering CPR, Chernoff said.
“He just happened to find him in his bed, and he wasn’t breathing,” the lawyer said. “Mr. Jackson was still warm and had a pulse.”
Jackson’s family requested a private autopsy in part because of questions about Murray, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said. Murray also told the family an autopsy should be performed, Chernoff said.
People close to Michael Jackson have said since his death that they were concerned about his use of painkillers. Los Angeles County medical examiners completed their autopsy Friday and said Jackson had taken unspecified prescription medication.
Asked if the Jackson family was worried about Murray’s role in the death, the Rev. Al Sharpton said on CBS’ “Early Show”: “They have not taken an accusatory tone toward anyone.”
Sharpton, a family friend, said the family was getting a second autopsy because they wanted to be sure they have all the facts, not because they have any specific suspicions.
Paramedics were called to the mansion while the doctor was performing CPR, according to a recording of the 911 call.
Because Jackson was so frail, Murray “administered with his hand behind his back to provide the necessary support,” Chernoff said. Some have speculated the doctor botched the CPR.
“He’s a trained doctor,” Chernoff said. “He knows how to administer CPR.”
Medics spent three-quarters of an hour trying to revive Jackson. He was pronounced dead later at UCLA Medical Center.
Murray was interviewed by investigators for three hours Saturday. His spokeswoman called Murray “a witness to this tragedy,” not a suspect in the death, and police described the doctor as cooperative.
The attorney said Murray will wait to speak publicly until after the police and forensics investigation is complete.
A second autopsy can allow the family to get some information about a death almost immediately, including signs of heart, brain or lung disease or fresh needle punctures, said Dr. Michael Baden, a medical examiner not involved in the Jackson case.
“Usually if it looks normal with the naked eye, it looks normal under the microscope,” said Baden, who recently performed a second autopsy on actor David Carradine.
Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said their autopsy found no indication of trauma or foul play. But because of additional tests, an official cause of death could take weeks to determine.
Three days after the death of the King of Pop, celebrities descended on Los Angeles for a spectacular celebration of Jackson’s life at the annual BET awards show.
Joe Jackson, Michael’s father, walked on the red carpet wearing a black hat, sunglasses and a dark suit. He did not appear on stage during the show.
“I just wish he could be here to celebrate himself,” he said. “Sadly, he’s not here, so I’m here to celebrate for him.”
In a statement read at the show, Jackson’s parents said they solely had the personal and legal “authority for our son and his children.” It was their strongest declaration yet about their son’s affairs.
A tearful Janet Jackson appeared on stage in a white dress at the end of the BET awards. After a long pause to gather herself, she spoke haltingly but deliberately to the audience.
“I’d just like to say that to you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family. And he will forever live in all of our hearts,” she said.
There was 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.
Sharpton planned to visit the Jackson compound Monday and would talk with the family about how to memorialize the late pop star. Sharpton said they want to hold memorials in key cities around the globe and also planned a memorial service Tuesday at the Apollo Theater in New York.
Associated Press writers contributing to this report include: Sophia Tareen in Chicago; Juan A. Lozano in Houston; and Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Gillian Flaccus, Brooke Donald, Beth Harris and Mike Blood and AP Global Media Services Production Manager Nico Maounis in Los Angeles.
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