LAPD Questions Jackson Cardiologist

Records show Dr. Conrad Murray has $400,000-plus legal judgments against him.

June 27, 2009, 9:56 AM

June 28, 2009— -- The "personal physician" who was at the side of Michael Jackson when the pop icon died was questioned Saturday by Los Angeles police, who said he provided useful information and is not a suspect.

In a statement released late Saturday, the Los Angeles Police Department said Dr. Conrad Robert Murray "voluntarily contacted" the department.

"Detectives assigned to Robbery-Homicide Division met with Dr. Murray and conducted an extensive interview," the statement said. "Dr. Murray was cooperative and provided information which will aid the investigation."

Murray's lawyers said the doctor and attorney Edward Chernoff, a Texas criminal law attorney with the firm Stradley, Chernoff & Alford, met with the LAPD for three hours.

"During the meeting Dr. Murray helped identify the circumstances around the death of the pop icon and clarified some inconsistencies," the statement said. "Dr. Murray has been in Los Angeles since the death of Mr. Jackson. He rode in the ambulance to the hospital and stayed at the hospital for hours comforting and consoling the Jackson family.

"Investigators say the doctor is in no way a suspect and remains a witness to this tragedy," the statement said.

Murray, a cardiologist, had tried to "pump" Jackson, according to the 911 call, but did not sign a death certificate.

"Dr. Murray considered himself to be a friend of Michael Jackson and he is very distraught over his death," Murray's attorneys said in a statement earlier Saturday. "He will continue to cooperate in every respect."

Murray is a 1989 graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, and practices medicine in Nevada, California and Texas.

Court records say Murray has more than $400,000 worth of legal judgments against him, including child support and default on a $71,000 education loan.

Randy Phillips, the promoter of Jackson's 50-concert London comeback said Jackson himself insisted the company hire Murray to be his personal physician. Phillips talked about Jackson's health during a press conference when the opening concert was delayed.

"Not that I'm a doctor, but I would trade my body for his," Phillips said of Jackson at the time. "He's in fantastic shape."

Meanwhile, Los Angeles fire and police officials have begun preparations for what they expect will be a massive turnout at the memorial service for Jackson, ABC News has learned.

No date has been set yet for the event but authorities are expecting large crowds.

The superstar's body was released to his family after an initial autopsy was inconclusive, but the Jacksons Saturday had not yet disclosed the name of the mortuary where it's being kept or funeral plans.

Moving fans were spotted outside Jackson's home that he was renting Saturday as The Associated Press reported that Janet Jackson arrived at her brother's Holmby Hills estate.

Jackson, wearing dark glasses, drove up in a Bentley and went directly to the estate. About eight movers had taken dollies and packing equipment through the gates.

Most of Michael Jackson's family members had gathered in their Encino compound, where they are contemplating funeral arrangements and caring for his three children. A person close to the family told The Associated Press that they are feeling confused, upset and angry by the lack of information about those who were around the pop superstar in his final days.

Investigators believe an addiction to painkiller drugs could be to blame for the superstar's death.

Jackson is believed to have died from cardiac arrest and law enforcement sources told ABC News Jackson was heavily addicted to Oxycontin and received it and Demerol in daily doses.

Deepak Chopra, a spiritual author, medical doctor and Jackson's friend, told "Good Morning America" the famed singer asked him for the prescription drug Oxycontin after his trial in 2005, saying that he was in pain.

"That's when I became suspicious that something was going on, that he was dependent," Chopra said, adding that Jackson tried to avoid talking about the subject with him. "Michael was addicted, but he had enabling doctors who perpetuated his addiction and actually started it."

Rev. Jesse Jackson, who spent Friday with the Jacksons, spoke to ABC News about their concerns about Dr. Murray and his role in Michael's final hours.

Rev. Jackson confirmed that the family is suspicious.

The doctor's behavior in their son's final moments didn't sit right with the Jacksons, according to Rev. Jackson.

"When did the doctor come? What did he do? Did he inject him? If so, with what?" Rev. Jackson asked. "Was he on the scene twice? Before and then reaction to? Did he use the Demerol? It's a very powerful drug. Was he injected once? Was he injected twice?"

The 911 audio tapes released Friday confirmed that a doctor was present in the room.

In the urgent, but collected phone call, an unidentified man described Jackson as lying on a bed unresponsive while a doctor kept "pumping him."

"I have a personal doctor here, but he's not responding to anything, CPR, or anything," the caller said, referring to Jackson only as "a gentleman here that needs help and he's not breathing yet."

ABC News has learned that Los Angeles police were told Jackson received an injection of the painkiller Demerol an hour before the 911 call was placed.

Rev. Jackson also said the family is considering and will "probably" order a second independent autopsy.

Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said Friday in a press conference that the robbery/homicide division has been in contact with Dr. Murray and would be interviewing him soon.

Police said interviewing the attending physician was a standard part of the investigation.

"A doctor has yet to sign to the Jackson death certificate," said LAPD spokesman Richard French. "Part of the investigation involves interviewing the attending physician."

Police believe Dr. Murray could provide a critical clue in determining what killed Michael Jackson.

Cops impounded a silver BMW from outside Jackson's Los Angeles home, which is registered to a Susan Mary Rush who is Murray's sister.

Law enforcement officials say the reason the car was towed is because it may contain medication or evidence that could assist the coroner. But officials dismissed rumors that Murray has avoided answering questions.

"Robbery homicide division detectives have been in contact with the physician and his representatives and have scheduled an interview which will take place shortly," Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said Friday. "We do not consider him to be uncooperative at this time."

In 2007, Jackson settled a lawsuit with a Beverly Hills pharmacy that claimed Jackson owed them more than $100,000 for prescription drugs, and during a search of his Neverland estate, the district attorney said syringes and Demerol were found on the property.

Jackson's autopsy on Friday lasted three hours but its results will not be known for weeks.

Michael Jackson's Autopsy Tests Could Take Up to Six Weeks

The Los Angeles County coroner's office announced it concluded Jackson's autopsy at 4 p.m. PT Saturday, but the determination of the cause of the pop star's death has been deferred because the medical examiner ordered additional toxicology, neuropathology and pulmonary tests.

Craig Harvey, operations chief of the L.A. County coroner's office, said the tests will take four to six weeks to complete, at which time he anticipates being able to issue a final cause of death.

Jackson's brother Jermaine said Thursday night at a press conference that the singer's doctor had tried to resuscitate him.

"His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate my brother, as did the paramedics who transported him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center," Jermaine Jackson said in the announcement that confirmed Michael Jackson, 50, had died.

Before authorities confirmed to ABC News that Murray was being sought for an interview, speculation swirled as to who might be the "personal physician" who was with Jackson at the time of his death.

Murray personally has been taken to civil court in Clark County twice in the past year by Capital One Bank for unpaid bills of around $2,000 in total.

The LAPD said it knew Jackson had several doctors.

For years, Jackson has been treated by Dr. Arnie Klein, a dermatologist. It was in Klein's office that Jackson met Debbie Rowe, the mother of his first two children. A housekeeper at Klein's homes said the doctor was "out of town."

The Web site reported the doctor lived at home with Jackson, but police could not confirm that.

Paramedics were called to Jackson's rental home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles Thursday afternoon. The singer was taken to UCLA, where according to his brother, doctors attempted to resuscitate him for over an hour.

From Los Angeles to Pakistan, Jackson's fans mourned the pop icon's death. Vigils were set up across the United States and fans continued to place flowers at Jackson's star on the Hollywood walk of fame, and outside the residence that he was renting in Los Angeles.

A vigil is planned at the original home of Motown Records in Detroit this evening. The child singer recorded at the studio there when he was a member of the Jackson 5.

Meanwhile, record stores around the country are reporting a surge in sales of Jackson's albums and his songs have jumped on the charts. In Britain, where he was to perform a series of concerts, starting in July, his 2003 compilation, "Number One," is expected to reach the top spot.

Jackson memorabilia is also selling fast, raking in big dollars for many sellers.

Jackson, who reportedly had debt of as much as $400 million, could leave a financial and legal conflict in his wake.

There are already talks as to whether his ex-wife will fight for custody of the children. Jackson was the sole custodial parent of his three children and Rowe has not been a part of their lives. The mother of the youngest, a surrogate, has never been disclosed.

"There will definitely be a feeding frenzy whether it's with lawyers, whether it's with family members or whether it's with the children's mother," said ABC News Legal Analyst Dana Cole. "It's just a guessing game as to how he put this all together, how he held it together. [Whether it] was with common sense and skilled lawyering or if it was with scotch tape. We just don't know."

There's also his upcoming concert. The promoter of Jackson's 50-concert tour will have to refund $85 million worth of tickets, but like Elvis Pressley, Jackson's could become worth more in death than life.

"He really was living pretty much in the ghetto of press gossip and scandal reports and freaky pictures. he moment he died in a way that changed," said Margo Jefferson, author of "On Michael Jackson." "Death makes it possible for people to reconnect with what they loved and admired in an artist."

Chopra said he was working on a song with Jackson dedicated to conservation and earth, one of the last recordings Jackson made.

Jackson "said he wanted to do something for the environment," Chopra said. "We were talking about how to reframe our perspective of what the environment is. ... He was moved by that kind of sentiment."

As for how he will remember his friend, Chopra said: "Innocent and pure and loving and compassionate and misunderstood."

ABC News' Gina Sunseri, Richard Esposito, Mike von Fremd and Brian Rooney contributed to this report.

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