Doctor finally facing charge in Jackson death

Liz De La Torre

From The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – After a week of trying, Dr. Conrad Murray was preparing to finally surrender Monday, with prosecutors saying they will file a charge in the death of Michael Jackson.

A district attorney’s spokeswoman did not name the doctor nor say what the charge will be but Murray’s lawyers have said they expect a single charge of involuntary manslaughter against the man who administered an anesthetic to the singer before he died.

In a brief statement posted on his Web site Monday, Murray’s lead attorney said his client was prepared to surrender at the courthouse adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport at 1:30 p.m. PST. In anticipation of his arrival, TV news vans and satellite trucks filled the courthouse parking lot before dawn.

Murray has been the focal point of a police investigation since Jackson died under his care last June 25 at age 50. Murray acknowledged that he administered the hospital anesthetic propofol and other sedatives as Jackson, a chronic insomniac, struggled to sleep.

Murray had been hired as the performer’s personal physician as he prepared for a monumental comeback concert in London. The doctor was to have traveled with Jackson and had closed down his cardiology practices in Houston and Las Vegas to devote himself to Jackson full time.

The death of the pop superstar left the doctor’s life and medical practice in limbo. There was talk of a criminal case even before a coroner’s report found that Jackson’s death was a homicide and pinpointed propofol and other drugs as the cause.

On Friday, after a week of on-again, off-again reports that Murray would be charged, district attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office was delaying any action until Monday amid reports that police wanted to arrest and handcuff the doctor but his attorneys were negotiating to avoid that.

The drama of his surrender and subsequent arraignment was to be played out in front of news cameras, and Murray’s legal team wanted to avoid the spectacle of having the doctor seen in handcuffs by a large audience — including potential jurors for his trial.

One group that wants to see him in handcuffs is a contingent of Michael Jackson fans who launched a telephone campaign to the Los Angeles Police Department demanding as much. They threatened to hold a protest at the airport-area courthouse if Murray was allowed to surrender on his own.

The doctor maintains nothing he gave Jackson should have killed him. A trial would be expected to involve expert medical testimony on the use of propofol and whether there was gross negligence involved in its use at a private home. It is normally administered in hospital settings.

Murray’s lead defense lawyer, Ed Chernoff, has said the doctor is prepared for the legal battle ahead.

“We’ll make bail, we’ll plead not guilty and we’ll fight like hell,” said Chernoff.