Doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death

By Linda Deutsch
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- Michael Jackson's doctor was charged with involuntary manslaughter Monday, capping an exhaustive investigation into the pop star's stunning death last summer and setting up the prospect of another sensational celebrity courtroom drama.

Conrad Murray, a cardiologist who was with Jackson when he died June 25 at the singer's rented Los Angeles mansion, is accused of the single felony count in a five-page complaint filed in Superior Court. According to the complaint, Murray "did unlawfully, and without malice, kill Michael Joseph Jackson" by acting "without due caution and circumspection." The complaint contains no details on Jackson's death, but authorities have said the singer died after Murray administered a powerful general anesthetic and other drugs to help Jackson rest. Murray has said he did nothing that should have caused Jackson to die.

If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

Soon after the charge was filed, Jackson's mother and father; his brothers Jermaine, Randy and Tito Jackson; and his sister LaToya Jackson arrived in a fleet of Cadillac Escalades at the courthouse, where hundreds of reporters and Jackson fans were gathered outside.

"Looking for justice" was all the pop icon's father, Joe Jackson, said as he walked into the courthouse.

Murray arrived about an hour later and also walked past the crowd. One person shouted "murderer."

The charge was expected, and Murray's attorney, Ed Chernoff, had said his client would surrender. "We'll make bail, we'll plead not guilty and we'll fight like hell," Chernoff said before the charge was filed.

Jackson, 50, hired Murray to be his personal physician as he prepared for a strenuous series of comeback concerts in London. Officials say the singer died after Murray administered the powerful general anesthetic propofol and two other sedatives to get the chronic insomniac to sleep.

Known as "milk of amnesia," propofol is supposed to be administered by an anesthesia professional in a medical setting because it depresses breathing and heart rate while lowering blood pressure.

Murray appears to have obtained the drug legally and its use is not in itself a crime. He must be shown to have been negligent in his care.

According to court documents, Murray told police he administered propofol just before 11 a.m., then stepped out of the room to go to the bathroom.

There is dispute about what happened next. According to court filings, Murray told police that upon his return, he saw Jackson was not breathing and tried to revive him.

But an ambulance was not called until 12:21 p.m. and Murray spent much of the intervening time making non-emergency cellphone calls, police say. The nature of the calls, which lasted 47 minutes, is not known.

Murray's lawyer has said that investigators got confused about what Murray had told them, and that the doctor found his patient unresponsive around noon.

-- Associated Press

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