LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles police investigating Michael Jackson’s sudden death said on Sunday they do not consider his doctor a suspect despite having questioned him about his presence at the time of the pop idol’s fatal cardiac arrest.
The Jackson family had yet to announce funeral arrangements for the 50-year-old King of Pop. But a family friend told Reuters that a service could be held on Wednesday and that the family wanted to bury Jackson at his famous Neverland Ranch.
The death of one of the most gifted musical performers of his generation prompted tributes and condolences, from U.S. President Barack Obama to legions of fans in Hollywood. Top performers were set to honor Jackson at the BET Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.
It was still unclear what, if any, role Jackson’s prescription medicines might have played in his sudden death on Thursday. The family carried out its own autopsy on Saturday after the Los Angeles Coroner said it would need four to six more weeks to determine the exact cause of death.
Late on Saturday, police interviewed cardiologist Dr. Conrad Murray in a second meeting that lasted three hours. The doctor was hired ahead of Jackson’s comeback concert series in London this month.
“He was interviewed as a person of interest, not a suspect,” Officer Norma Eisenman, a Los Angeles Police spokeswoman, told Reuters.
A police statement added that “Dr. Murray was cooperative and provided information that will aid the investigation.”
According to media reports and a family friend, Jackson was injected with the narcotic painkiller Demerol before he went into cardiac arrest, and Murray was trying to revive him when paramedics arrived.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the interview with Murray revealed “no red flag” indicating criminal activity or the cause of death.
And Murray’s lawyers said in a statement that he helped police “identify the circumstance around the death ... and clarified some inconsistencies.”
Stacy Brown, an author who co-wrote the book “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask,” told Reuters on Sunday that the singer’s family aimed to have a funeral on Wednesday. His body would be buried at Neverland, the California ranch where Jackson lived a reclusive and fantasy-like life.
Brown also said a family source told him Jackson was injected with the drug Demerol at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, shortly before he died.
“They have been concerned about his addiction to medicines for years,” Brown said. “It’s been no family secret that they’ve been trying to get him help for his addiction.”
Jackson’s family was eager to take the spotlight off the singer’s troubled last decade, in which he was tried and acquitted of child molestation and was vilified for eccentric behavior.
Jackson’s father, Joe, on Saturday urged fans not to despair because the singer “will continue to live on in each and every one of you.”
President Barack Obama wrote to Jackson’s family expressing his condolences, White House adviser David Axelrod told NBC news television show “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Fans continued to stream past Jackson’s star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, leaving flowers and singing his best-known songs like “Thriller” and “Billie Jean.”
In the Philippines, prisoners who rose to Internet fame two years ago with their exercise regime featuring “Thriller” donned their dancing shoes once more on Saturday to pay tribute to Jackson. [nMAN462684]
Back in Los Angeles, some of the biggest names in entertainment rushed to attend the BET Awards, modified at the last minute to make the gathering a tribute to Jackson. Host Jamie Foxx will be joined by top performers like Beyonce.
Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte