Thursday, February 4, 2010

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Michael Jackson's Doctor to Surrender

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  • (AP) Michael Jackson's doctor has agreed to surrender to authorities Friday to face a criminal case stemming from the singer's death, his lawyer said Thursday.

    Attorney Ed Chernoff said Dr. Conrad Murray agreed to turn himself in following discussions with the prosecutor handling the case. Details about how he would surrender were still being worked out.

    "You tell us where; we'll be there," Chernoff said in a Thursday night posting on his Web site.

    It was not immediately clear when Murray would be arraigned. Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said it would not happen Friday.

    Word that Murray would surrender came after a day of haggling between prosecutors, defense lawyers and law enforcement officials over whether the physician should be arrested or allowed to turn himself in.

    Officials from the Los Angeles Police Department, which spent the past seven months investigating Murray, were unhappy with the idea of him surrendering and wanted to go to the residence he was staying at to arrest him, a law enforcement official close to the investigation told The Associated Press.

    Various factors weighed into the desire to arrest Murray, including the possibility he might flee before arraignment, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity. Police officials also worried it could appear Murray was being given special treatment if he was allowed to turn himself in.

    The official said the district attorney's office opposed an early plan for detectives to make the arrest Friday morning, upsetting police higher-ups, and negotiated with Murray's attorneys to allow the doctor to turn himself in.

    District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons could not immediately confirm Chernoff's assertion that Murray would surrender Friday.

    "I cannot vouch for the truth of that statement," Gibbons said.

    Chernoff told the AP earlier Thursday that an arrest would be purely for the benefit of news cameras.

    "It's a waste of time, it's just a show," Chernoff said. "There's no reason to handcuff a guy, drag him downtown so you can take a photo when he's been sitting here for a week waiting to turn to himself in."

    Gibbons denied there was any discord between the Police Department and the district attorney's office and said police and prosecutors had been fully cooperating since the case began.

    "There is no big dispute," Gibbons said. "We are getting along fine."

    Jackson, 50, died June 25 at his rented Los Angeles mansion while under the care of Murray, a cardiologist with practices in Houston and Las Vegas.

    Three law enforcement officials have told the AP prosecutors plan to charge Murray with involuntary manslaughter, alleging he gave Jackson the powerful anesthetic propofol to help him sleep but that instead led to his death.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

    It's unusual for the district attorney's office to negotiate a surrender, with such talks usually occurring in high-profile cases.

    Attorney Mark Geragos, who has represented Jackson and a string of other celebrities, said defense lawyers in such cases want to shield their clients from the embarrassing "perp walk," where a suspect is paraded before cameras in handcuffs.

    "It's to let some people maintain some shred of dignity," Geragos said.

    Several other celebrity attorneys, including Harland Braun and M. Gerald Schwartzbach, said they couldn't understand why the LAPD would want to arrest Murray if he was being cooperative.

    "Otherwise, you are deliberately arresting someone to make a statement," Braun said. "It would reflect poorly on the prosecution if they don't let him surrender."
    Michael Jackson and his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.

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