One year after Michael Jackson’s death, fans hold tributes, father files suit against doctor

By John Rogers, AP
Friday, June 25, 2010

Jackson: A tribute from fans, a lawsuit from dad

LOS ANGELES — On the day Michael Jackson’s fans paid their respects with tears, tributes, songs and dance, Jackson’s father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor charged with giving his son a lethal dose of drugs.

Joe Jackson’s visit to a federal courtroom in Los Angeles, while thousands of people were filing through the gates of a nearby cemetery to mourn the man they call the King of Pop, punctuated once again just how brilliantly the star that was Michael Jackson’s life had burned, and how suddenly it had been extinguished.

“The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, Gone Too Soon,” proclaimed a 100-foot banner spread out near the entrance to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale on Friday to mark the first anniversary of Jackson’s death.

“He’s been my idol all my life since I can remember. I feel like I haven’t had closure,” said Erick Dominguez, who traveled more than 80 miles from his home in Victorville to the Los Angeles suburb to pay his respects. As he spoke, the 37-year-old sales representative, his eyes hidden by sunglasses, began to weep. He was joined by mourners from Italy, France, Spain, Norway and numerous other parts of the world.

Several of Jackson’s relatives also visited the cemetery, going to its mausoleum, where Jackson’s body is entombed and which is off limits to the public. Brother Tito shook hands with fans as he arrived, and brother Jermaine rolled down a window and waved as the family left in a fleet of luxury vehicles. As they departed, fans released a flock of white doves.

“It was a beautiful sight,” said one of the mourners, Courtland Llauger.

In Jackson’s hometown of Gary, Ind., hundreds cheered as the entertainer’s mother, Katherine Jackson, unveiled a memorial to her son in the front yard of the modest home where he grew up.

“This past year has been very hard on the family,” she told the crowd. “If it wasn’t for the help of all of you, we wouldn’t have made it through.”

Jackson died June 25, 2009 at age 50, just before he was to begin a comeback tour. Dr. Conrad Murray has pleaded not guilty to felony involuntary manslaughter. Authorities say Murray provided the entertainer with a mix of sedatives — including the powerful anesthetic propofol — that killed him.

Jackson’s father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the physician Friday, seeking more than $75,000. The complaint accuses Murray of professional negligence and contends he tried to conceal his administration of propofol after Jackson’s death. Propofol is normally administered only in hospital settings. Murray had been providing it in the bedroom of Jackson’s rented mansion in Los Angeles to help him sleep after the physically grueling rehearsals the performer had been putting himself through to get in shape for his comeback.

Murray attorney Charles Peckham said in a statement he expected his client’s innocence to be “proven in a court of law.”

Away from the courtroom, numerous tributes to Jackson, both poignant and joyful, unfolded throughout the day.

In Japan, hundreds met at Tokyo Tower to honor Jackson with a candlelight vigil, a gospel concert and more. Some got a chance to see some of his possessions, including costumes from his tours and even a 1967 Rolls-Royce Phantom that he used to drive around Los Angeles.

“I don’t know what to say. Seeing all his things makes it all come back to me,” said Yumiko Sasaki, a 48-year-old Tokyo office worker who said she has been a Jackson fan since she was 12. “It makes me so sad to think that he is gone. He was wonderful.”

In New York City, crowds gathered at Harlem’s fabled Apollo Theater, where Jackson and his brothers rocketed to fame as the Jackson 5, winning amateur night in the late 1960s. His pictures were hung outside and a sidewalk plaque honored the singer alongside such other Apollo legends as James Brown and Smokey Robinson.

In Santa Barbara’s wine country, people showed up throughout the day at Neverland, the playland home where Jackson once lived with his own zoo and amusement park. There, by the front gates, they danced, listened to music and exchanged hugs and tears.

In cyberspace, people also paused to remember Jackson. Among them was Mariah Carey who said via Twitter that she was marking the day by watching the video “You Are Not Alone.”

“Love and prayers to MJ ‘King of Pop,’” she tweeted. “You will be remembered forever. We miss you.”

Contributing to this story were AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York; AP entertainment writers Anthony McCartney and Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles and Jake Coyle in New York; AP writers Eric Talmadge in Tokyo, Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Raquel Maria Dillon and Nardine Saad in Los Angeles and Tom Coyne in Gary, Ind.; and Solvej Schou in Glendale, Calif.

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