... So that You may be kept informed

US: Exact details of Jackson death remain unclear

By John Rogers
27 Jun 2009 2:01 PM

LOS ANGELES, June 26 AP - The final act of Michael Jackson's life came into clearer focus on Friday, a picture of a fallen superstar under the care of his own private cardiologist as he tried to get his 50-year-old body in shape for a gruelling bid to reclaim his glory.

While the exact circumstances of his death remained unclear, early clues suggested he may simply have pushed his heart too far.

Police said they had towed the doctor's BMW from Jackson's home because it may include medication or other evidence.

It has been widely reported a heart attack appeared to have caused the cardiac arrest that led to the pop icon's sudden death.

As grief for the troubled King of Pop poured out from the icons of music to heartbroken fans, and the world came to grips with losing one of its most luminous celebrities, an autopsy showed no sign of trauma or foul play to Jackson, who died on Thursday at UCLA Medical Centre after paramedics could not could not revive him.

Jackson's brother Jermaine had said the pop singer apparently went into cardiac arrest - which often, but not always, happens because of a heart attack.

Authorities said they spoke with the doctor briefly on Thursday and Friday and expected to meet with him again soon.

Police stressed that the doctor, identified by the Los Angeles Times as cardiologist Conrad Murray, was not a criminal suspect.

"We do not consider him to be uncooperative at this time," Beck said.

"We think that he will assist us in coming to the truth of the facts in this case."

Meanwhile, celebrity website TMZ has reported LA police met with members of the Jackson family at the deceased star's rented home on Friday.

Police and relatives had requested the meeting, to clarify circumstances surrounding Jackson's death, TMZ said.

Craig Harvey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner, said there were no signs of foul play in the autopsy and further tests would be needed to determine cause of death.

He said Jackson was taking some unspecified prescription medication but gave few other details.

Meanwhile, an emergency dispatch call released by fire officials shed light on the desperate effort at the mansion to save Jackson's life before paramedics arrived Thursday afternoon. Jackson died later at UCLA Medical Centre.

In the recording, an unidentified caller pleads with authorities to send help, offering no clues about why Jackson was stricken. He tells a dispatcher that Jackson's doctor is performing CPR.

"He's pumping his chest," the caller says, "but he's not responding to anything."

Asked by the dispatcher whether anyone saw what happened, the caller answers: "No, just the doctor, sir. The doctor has been the only one there."

The president of the company promoting Jackson's shows said Murray was Jackson's personal physician for three years. Jackson insisted Murray accompany him to London, said Randy Phillips, president of AEG Live.

On Friday, the autopsy was completed in a matter of hours, but an official cause of death could take up to six weeks while medical examiners await toxicology tests. No funeral plans had been made public.

Jackson had remained out of the public spotlight during intense rehearsals for the London concerts, but those with access said he was upbeat and seemingly energised by his planned comeback.

Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammys, said he watched Jackson dance energetically as recently as Wednesday.

"There was this one moment, he was moving across the stage and he was doing these trademark Michael moves, and I know I got this big grin on my face, and I started thinking to myself, 'You know, it's been years since I've seen that,"' he said.

Jackson's health had been known to be precarious in recent years, and one family friend said Friday that he had warned the entertainer's family about his use of painkillers.

"I said one day we're going to have this experience. And when Anna Nicole Smith passed away, I said we cannot have this kind of thing with Michael Jackson," Brian Oxman, a former Jackson attorney and family friend, told NBC's Today show.

"The result was I warned everyone, and lo and behold, here we are. I don't know what caused his death. But I feared this day, and here we are."

Oxman claimed Jackson had prescription drugs at his disposal to help with pain suffered when he broke his leg after he fell off a stage and for broken vertebrae in his back.

The worldwide wave of mourning for Jackson continued unabated for the man who revolutionised pop music and moonwalked his way into entertainment legend.

"My heart, my mind are broken," said Elizabeth Taylor, who was one of Jackson's closest friends.

Hundreds made a pilgrimage to the Jackson family's compound in Los Angeles, leaving flowers and messages of love. They did the same at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and at the home in Los Angeles' Holmby Hills where Jackson was stricken. Some camped out overnight.

Scores of celebrities who knew or worked with Jackson - or were simply awed by him - issued statements of mourning. Some came through publicists and others through emotional postings on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, where countless everyday fans were sharing memories as well.

His two ex-wives both said they were devastated. One of them, Lisa Marie Presley, posted a long, emotional statement on her MySpace page in which she said her ex-husband had confided to her 14 years ago that he feared dying young and under tragic circumstances, just as her father, Elvis Presley, had.

"I promptly tried to deter him from the idea, at which point he just shrugged his shoulders and nodded almost matter of fact as if to let me know, he knew what he knew and that was kind of that," Presley said.

Presley's father, the King of Rock 'n' Roll to Jackson's King of Pop, died in 1977 at age 42 of a drug-related death.

At rehearsals for Sunday's Black Entertainment Awards show, stars such as Beyonce, Wyclef Jean and Ne-Yo were frantically revamping their performances in an effort to turn the evening into a Michael Jackson tribute.

When he was on trial on child molestation charges in 2005, Jackson appeared gaunt and had recurring back problems that he attributed to stress. His trial was interrupted several times by hospital visits, and Jackson once even appeared late to court dressed in his pajamas after an emergency room visit.

After his acquittal, Jackson's prosecutor argued against returning some items that had been seized from Neverland, the Santa Barbara County estate Jackson had converted into a children's playland. Among the items were syringes, the powerful painkiller Demerol and other prescription drugs.

Demerol carries a long list of warnings to users. The government warns that mixing it with certain other drugs can lead to reactions including slowed or stopped breathing, shock and cardiac arrest.