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Police hold interview with Jackson’s doctor

Sun., June 28, 2009

Expert hired by family performs second autopsy

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles police completed an “extensive interview” Saturday night with the doctor who was with Michael Jackson when the pop star went into cardiac arrest, and a source close to the investigation said detectives found “no red flag” during discussions about the death.

A private pathologist, meanwhile, conducted a second autopsy on Jackson’s body, hours after it was released to relatives by the Los Angeles County coroner.

Coroner’s officials had said that Jackson had been using prescription drugs, and the investigation is focused on whether Jackson overdosed. But after the Los Angeles Police Department completed its interview with Conrad Murray, Jackson’s personal physician, the source said: “There was no red flag. There was no smoking gun.”

Los Angeles police have said that Murray is not suspected of wrongdoing and is cooperating with the investigation into Jackson’s death. The law firm Murray has hired said in a statement that he was “considered to be a witness to the events surrounding Michael Jackson’s death.”

The coroner’s office, which completed its autopsy on Friday, said there was no evidence of foul play. The coroner has only listed the cause of death as “deferred” until more tests are complete. Results could take as long as six weeks.

Sources confirmed that Jackson’s family – apparently eager for quicker information and looking to get an independent opinion – had a second autopsy performed. Jackson, 50, was stricken Thursday at his rented Los Angeles chateau and died after suffering what his brother Jermaine Jackson said was cardiac arrest.

Families who obtain a second autopsy often do so because they want to confirm the cause of death. A second autopsy can also give relatives information much faster than an autopsy conducted by law enforcement officials.

There are, however, limitations. The reason an official autopsy can take longer is that government authorities use methodology that generates a chain of evidence admissible in court.

In addition, the coroner likely kept Jackson’s brain even after his body was released in order to conduct a neuropathology test, said Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist and former coroner in Allegheny County, Penn., who conducted the second autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith’s son.

Those tests could reveal, among other things, whether Jackson’s brain had been damaged by drug abuse and whether he had suffered overdoses in the past.

“If that’s being done, the second autopsy won’t shed any light on that because the brain will be in the medical examiner’s office,” said Michael Baden, a former chief medical examiner in New York City who has investigated or testified in a host of high-profile cases.

Jackson’s family has begun piecing together plans for a funeral or a public memorial. The Los Angeles Police Department is being apprised of planning in the event that it needs to prepare for a large gathering of fans.


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