On anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, roses -- and regrets
On the third anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, fans Monday sent a flood of flowers to the site where the pop star is interred, while the man accused of playing a role in the singer's death remained behind bars at Los Angeles County jail.
Jackson, 50, died June 25, 2009, after suffering cardiac arrest at a mansion he was renting in Holmby Hills. His doctor, cardiologist Conrad Murray, was later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for administering a fatal dose of the powerful surgical anesthetic propofol.
In the crucial moments after he discovered the singer had stopped breathing, Murray delayed calling for help and lied to paramedics and emergency doctors, witnesses said.
Murray never took the witness stand to proclaim his innocence.
"He absolutely wishes he testified," said attorney Valerie Wass, who is handling Murray's appeal of his conviction. "Ed Chernoff [Murray's attorney] was pretty adamant that he not testify, Mr. [J. Michael] Flanagan [the doctor's other attorney] thought he should testify. So he never testified."
Meanwhile, nearly 11,000 long-stem roses decorated the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, where Jackson is interred. Hundreds more bouquets, teddy bears, posters and flower stands –- some sent from as far away as Japan, Italy and Russia –- crowded the makeshift memorial in what has become an annual event for devoted fans.
Among the throng of fans was Carlo Riley, a well-known Jackson impersonator who said he plans to make the annual trip from Denver for many years to come.
"Even though he's gone, this is still my passion," Riley said.
Los Angeles resident Robyn Starkand -– who helped organize the massive rose delivery through her online, PayPal-fueled "One Rose for Michael Jackson" campaign –- said the roses allowed many fans who couldn't make the trek feel like they were part of the memorial.
Asked why she chose roses, Starkland said it was an easy pick.
"It's the creme de la creme of flowers, and that's what he was."
-- Richard Winton, Jason Wells and Liana Aghajanian
Photo: Hundreds of well-wishers gather at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale on the third anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. Credit: Tim Berger / TCN