By Art Harris, The Bald Truth, (c) www.artharris.com, all rights reserved
Who would have dreamed Los Angeles prosecutors who once sent detectives all over the world to investigate charges Michael Jackson was a pedophile would now be fighting to defend the late pop star’s reputation, trying to keep damning evidence against him they once worked so hard to collect…OUT of court?
Yet, in the manslaughter trial of Jackson doctor Conrad Murray in Los Angeles, where a jury pool was selected this week, you won’t hear much about the pop star’s past drug abuse —- or past molestation trials and tribulations from 1993 to 2005, when Jackson was acquitted of sexually abusing a 13 year old former cancer patient.
What you will hear are charges his $150,000 a month doctor allegedly failed to monitor Jackson in his own bedroom, where he died of a drug overdose in 2009 from a powerful anesthetic called Propofol, aka Diprivan, a milky white fluid one anesthesiologist tells me is known to be quietly abused by some medical professionals for its fleeting sexual high. He called the short-acting hypnotic ideal for surgery if given in a hospital setting, but risky without vital sign monitors and a doctor watching them.
Murray has plead not guilty to one charge of involuntary manslaughter, and faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted in a case that focuses on the Houston-based cardiologist’s actions in the final hours of Jackson’s life.
Murray’s lawyers are expected to argue the insomniac superstar demanded Diprivan to sleep â€“ and self administered more than his doctor prescribed as a drip — even DRANK it —- while prepping for a 2009 world tour. A toxicology report showed Propofol was the main culprit with other prescription drugs in his system.
Yet Jackson’s history of doctor shopping and prescription drug abuse may only be introduced sparingly after LA prosecutors convinced the judge it would be “character assassination on the victim,” as Deputy DA David Walgren put it, and possibly taint the jury pool.
“How can you taint a jury pool that’s been overexposed to Jackson shockers from years, from dangling his kid out a hotel window to paying a 13 year old boy a reported $20 million in damages to drop molestation charges against him and agree to keep quiet?” asks Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Ray Giudice. “That’s alot of money to pay someone if you’re not guilty, but it may have been a good investment because Jackson went on to make alot more, and the District Attorney had to drop the criminal case against him after their key witness hit the Jackson jackpot.”
Acknowledging wide media coverage, LA Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor Friday ordered jurors to avoid it from here forward, and asked if there was anyone who had NOT heard of the Murray case.
No one raised a hand. Conceding some may also have an opinion about Dr. Murray’s guilt or innocence, he said the only requirement to serve was an abilty to be fair, to be be able to set aside any bias or opinion, and base a verdict solely on evidence presented in court.
At the end of the second day of jury selection Friday, the judge ruled he’d gathered a large enough pool to be whittled down to 18 Los Angeles County qualified citizensd willing and able to handle a month long trial. All received a 30 page questionaire to fill out, and will be quizzed by lawyers for bias and background when they reconvene Sept. 23 to pick those who will stand in judgement. Opening arguments are expected about a week after that, then fireworks.
But much will not be allowd, the judge has ruled, like witnesses telling Jackson drug stories, like the one I learned from a former bodyguard, an ex Los Angeles deputy who spoke with me after Jackson died, detailing how Jackson had multiple doctors he’d call on in every city he visited, at all hours, to ask for powerful drugs for aches and pains, real and imagined.
Once, fearing his groggy, heavily sweating boss was about to OD on his watch, the ex-cop, who asked that his name not be used, told me in an exclusive interview he’d stayed up all night to keep Jackson awake, then cancelled a business meeting for him the next day. “He was in no shape to meet anyone,” he said, just one of numerous drug tales from the Jackson trail Murray defense lawyers probably wish the jury could hear.
Only the judge has reportedly ruled out former doctors as defense witnesses, like LA dermatologist Arnie Klein, who gave Jackson Demerol shots (a favorite) in his Beverly Hills office for minor procedures before witnesses reported spying Jackson stumbling out and into his car. Jackson hired Dr. Klein to travel with him overseas on one tour, along with his then nurse he would later marry, Debbie Rowe, who also gave the Gloved One relaxing massages. It’s all described in court records obtained by The Bald Truth.
However, the judge said he’d allow some Jackson medical records, limiting Murray’s defense plan to put the victim on trial, always a popular, and often successful, strategy, from rape cases to molestation to murder—-and re-engineered for a 24/7 media by O.J. Simpsons’ so called Dream Team.
During the that case I covered for CNN, I watched Simpson lead attorneys Johnny Cochran and Robert Shapiro write the modern day playbook on how to salt ominous clouds over LA with reasonable doubt, leaking theories and facts to eager journalists like me who reported what we could confirm, and debunked the rest, aware potential jurors were watching.
One defense theory, quickly debunked, suggested unknown Colombian drug lords had estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson, murdered for drug debts, hanging with a bad crowd, or that she was unwittingly caught in a deal gone wrong, and that Simpson was still hunting for the killer–even after his acquittal.
But I reported what O. J. had left out—that party pals, relatives and friends told me it was Simpson’s coke use Nicole feared was snorting out of control, fueling domestic violence, and jealous furies, like stalking her after spying the second murder victim, waiter Ronald Goldman, driving the white Ferrari that Simpson had bought for HER!
Goldman was found slashed to death, along with Nicole, after showing up for a romantic evening. Medical examiners found several knife wounds on the arms to be defensive, attempts by Goldman to bravely fighting back, briefly, against an ex-football star gone mad. OJ’s blood was found at the crime scene, and inside his white Bronco. How could he possibly get out of that? But his lawyers had a plan.
The strategy: “the 3 C’s,” lawyer F. Lee Bailey told me. “Conspiracy by police to frame OJ, contamination of the evidence and a case that was compromised by alleged police corruption.” He conceded he wasn’t out for justice, he was out to win.
And winning meant pressuring the DA to move jury selection from Santa Monica to downtown, where a majority black jury pool was available to pull from. And who was the perfect juror? Bailey told me they were targeting African American females, mother’s of sons who had been roughed up by the LAPD, and ruling out anyone with high school math or science; the team aimed to confuse, or convince them, that OJ’s blood and DNA at the crime scene didn’t matter.
“How are you going to beat DNA?” I asked Bailey, a who regularly consulted with a brilliant Atlanta defense lawyer, Mark Kadish, a law school professor and former co-counsel in winning an acquital years earlier for an Army officer accused of mass murder in the Vietnam My Lai massacre trial.
“That’s easy,” Bailey told me over dinner at Chops, an Atlanta restaurant, and a pricey bottle of red wine. “It’s white people’s science.”
Kim Kardashian’s father, Robert, a Simpson attorney, was stunned when the jury found his client not guilty, and OJ seemed to be swallowing his shocka and glee he’d gotten away with murder.
“They just threw spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick,” lead LAPD homicide investigator Tom Lange, told me, “and some of it did.”
In 2005, I watched another courthouse road warrior, Jackson defense attorney Tom Messereau, artfully portray his client’s sex crime accusers as a family of grifters, after a 13 year old former cancer patient, Gavin Arvizo, filed charges of child abuse and molestation.
For Team Murray, putting the victim on trial was also a logical strategy, as Houston criminal defense attorney Ed Chernoff tries to beat back the DA’s next expensive crusade to go after doctors of dead celebrities with big drug appetites.
Some critics say the outcome doesn’t really matter, as long as the cause wins anti-drug headlines for politicians like Jerry Brown, who rode the Anna Nicole Smith probe he ordered as Attorney General to the governor’s mansion. Sources close to the case tell me the AG pressed the LA District Attorney to proceed despite what was shaping up to be a weak case, costing taxpayers a fortune to fly in flaky witnesses like Smith’s Haitian nannies and their families all the way from the Bahamas. Ruled not credible, they were not even allowed to testify, as Atlanta criminal defense attorney Steve Sadow, who represented Howard K. Stern, ripped the prosecution’s case to shreds.
Indeed, the DA’s ofice got more egg on face when Anna Nicole Smith’s doctor, Sandeep Kapoor, was acquitted of charges he’d prescribed drugs to an addict, while another doctor and her lawyer— boyfriend Howard K. Stern — were only found guilty of misdemeanors.
Now Murray is the latest accused Dr. Hollywood Feelgood, portrayed by prosecutors as reckless, malleable, star struck and broke, another pop doc who just couldn’t tell a superstar, “No,” a cardiologist earning far more treating Jackson than Medicaid patients back home in Houston.
While Murray maintains his innocence, his lawyers had been lining up witnesses to testify about Jackson’s past of doctor shopping, abuse of prescription drugs and more. But his ex docs have now been ruled off limits, along with old sex charges, forcing his lawyers to slash their witness list at the last minute.
Now it’s the lengthy juror questionnaire you can find here that they hope to use as Murray’s first line of defense, as both sides begin studying the pool. Prosecutors will try to weed out secret fans, the so called “runaway juror,” while others may favor Murray, harboring beliefs Jackson was able to have his way with young boys because he was rich and famous and chose his victims well.
“He groomed them like most pedophiles do,” an LAPD detective who worked the case told me. The detective was a veteran of sex crime investigations, describing how predators aim for weak victims who can be discredited.
He’d worked the 1993 molestation case against the pop star, too, when Jackson was headed for trial, until the key witness, Jordie Chandler, decided not to testify after Jackson paid him a reported $20 million to settle damage claims and keep quiet.
Sources told me LAPD detectives were dispatched around the world to track down victims and line up witnesses, to the Phillipines to interview ex staffers, and others who told investigators the pop star held dance contests overseas where boys vied to imitate the Moonwalk. Afterward, law enforcement sources familiar with the case, told me a Jackson staffer would tell the lucky boy, “Michael wants to meet you.”
Sources told me prosecutors believed they a “solid case” with multiple alleged victims when the case dissolved. Jackson always maintained his innocence.
Then, in 2003, almost a decade later, prosecutors in Santa Barbara, acting on a tip, sent deputies to Neverland Ranch, to raid Jackson’s sprawling ponderosa, and collect evidence for fresh sex charges brought by a former cancer patient he’d been cheering up with gifts and visits.
Gavin Arvizo was 13 then, and Jackson was nothing if not generous and kind, after being told about a dying child who adored the pop star, and asked to see him in the cancer ward, said friends. Jackson began showering the boy with gifts and attention, as he often did needy children, and later gave him trips to Neverland, where deputies in the 2003 raid hauled away bags of prescription drugs, along with pornography prosecutors introduced at the trial. It wasn’t enough.
Like some Casey Anthony jurors who acquitted Tot Mom, two jurors in the 2005 Jackson molestation trial said they believed the pop star guilty, only felt prosecutors didn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
That was the wild trial where Jackson showed up daily, once wearing pajamas, as deputies kept crowds back, burly bodyguards held umbrellas to protect the rock star from the sun and Jackson lawyers argued accusers with a past were lying to shake him down.
I obtained an exclusive 45 minute police videotape of the accuser’s mother claiming Jackson had entertained her family at Neverland, parking her in a guesthouse under surveillance, while he hosted spend the night parties in a private bedroom suite far from the main house, with a long hallway and motion detectors.
Keep checking The Bald Truth for never before shown excerpts from the tape.
While Jackson lawyers portrayed Victim Mom as a whacko who was later convicted of welfare fraud, she exuded fear on the tape, whether real or imagined, laying out how Jackson courted her son, then tried to whisk her and her family to South America to lay low.
On the stand, she was feisty, if frazzled, didn’t play well. She and her other kids said they were treated to movies and fun rides at Neverland, a railroad, a petting zoo, ferris wheels, a kitchen open 24/7…and spend the night parties in a private bedroom suite far from the main house.
One detective told me it had a long hallway with motion detectors to sound an alarm.
Why would Jackson need that with an army of security guards on the grounds?” I asked.
“I believe it was to warn him,” the detective told me, “so he wouldn’t get caught.”