Mon, Jun 29, 2009 - Page 13 News List




he 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 after a three-hour interview with detectives.

Conrad Murray “helped identify the circumstances around the death of the pop icon and clarified some inconsistencies,’’ spokeswoman Miranda Sevcik said on Saturday 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 on Thursday, and reportedly performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

News of Murray’s meeting with the police came a few hours after 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 on 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.

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.

Given the secrecy surrounding Jackson’s children throughout his life, it’s no surprise that there are lingering questions about who will care for them after his death. What is almost certain is this: Their fate will be decided in a courtroom, with several people possibly vying for custody.

Experts say the person who has the strongest legal claim to Jackson’s two oldest children is their mother, Deborah Rowe. As for the youngest child, Jackson’s wishes will be more influential.

It remains unclear who Jackson designated as potential guardians for his children. Those details — likely contained in the 50-year-old singer’s will — have not been released.

Jackson never told his family who he had in place to handle his business affairs, a person close to the family said on Friday. The person, who requested anonymity because of the delicate nature of the situation, said they were told by the singer’s phalanx of advisers that he likely had a will, but it may be many years old.

The person also said that the children are still in the care of the extended Jackson family for the moment.

Jackson’s three children are Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince Michael, 12; Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11; and Prince Michael II, 7. The elder children were born to Rowe, while the youngest is his biological son, born to a surrogate mother. Prince Michael II’s mother has never been identified, and while she may surface, it is likely that she signed away her rights, said Stacy Phillips, a Los Angeles divorce attorney who has represented numerous high-profile clients.

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