Kudos to Entertainment Tonight and The Insider for broadcasting you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it footage they obtained of impending manslaughter defendant Dr. Conrad Murray paying a visit Forest Lawn Glendale, the cemetery where his patient, Michael Jackson, was entombed five months earlier, to the day.
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But that's only half of the unbelievable story.
The shows were broadcast on February 4. The Insider segment states that the Murray footage was shot the day prior, February 3 - the same day that members of the fiercely devoted Michael Jackson Fans of Southern California Facebook fan club made their monthly pilgrimage to the Great Mausoleum Holly Terrace.
Here's my exclusive breakdown on why we don't see him at Holly Terrace:
Viewer comments on websites for both shows are of the overwhelming opinion that Murray's visit was an outrageously inappropriate publicity stunt. Who shot the footage is unknown, but whoever it was did not go unnoticed by Murray, seen looking directly at the camera.
It's widely speculated that the material was orchestrated and leaked by a British reality show crew revealed to be following Murray around as of late December, as reported by the Associated Press based on an original report by TMZ.
The odds that the visit's documentation was pre-arranged to happen in the presence of at least one professional photographer skyrocket considering the quality and camera angle of this still photo copyrighted by the National Photo Group and published by the UK's Daily Mail. (Thank you reader Marissa Kay for pointing out that the NPG is the same agency responsible for paps Ben Evenstad/Chris Weiss' last photo of MJ, in the ambulance, and the first to get images of Murray when he came out of hiding.)
ET and The Insider both reported that MJ's erstwhile personal physician was seen alone outside the Great Mausoleum and that he left after only staying for a few moments and after never going in. E! Online further reported that he tried to gain access but was turned away because he was not on the approved Jackson family guest list.
Here's where the debunking begins.
This screen capture from the video showing Murray exiting a vehicle parked in front of the Memorial Terrace clearly shows he was not alone. Notice the person on the driver side seemingly getting something out of the minivan's back seat. A camera perhaps?
Next, Murray went to the clearly-marked Memorial Terrace, not the Holly Terrace which has been reported ad nauseum to be the portion of the Great Mausoleum where MJ was entombed.
Further, notice that the Memorial Terrace entrance doors are closed. This indicates that Murray was either there before 9 a.m. or after 4:30 p.m., the hours of operation for that building. He didn't go in because he couldn't go in and it had nothing to do with a Jackson family approved guest list.
By the way, I was there with the MJFSC at Forest Lawn on February 3. While there, coincidentally, I was told by a cemetery source that the multi-paged family approved guest list was nixed once photos of MJ's crypt, taken by an approved visitor, were published as an exclusive by TMZ in November. For the past three months, the new official ground rules at the park have been that visitors are only allowed in to see MJ if they are accompanied by a Jackson family member.
Regarding the closed doors, as a comparison, I'm including a shot of my friend Laurie and I, taken
in front of the same Memorial Terrace doors after exiting that terrace in 2006. It illustrates the position of the doors during business hours - propped open. You can see the security kiosk through the left door. The
position of the car in the background of the photo is roughly where
Murray's minivan was parked.
Just to be clear, here's another shot of Murray on the Memorial Terrace steps showing the closed doors, as well as documentation from Forest Lawn-issued literature verifying the mausoleum visiting hours.
Next, let's take into consideration the position of the sun to timeline Murray's visit.
The warm light and shadows in the image of Murray seated on the westward-facing cement bench outside the Memorial Terrace indicate the sun is setting on the western horizon (see map below which includes official coordinates.) According to data from the National Weather Service, sunset occurred at 5:26 p.m. on February 3.
This narrows down the time of his visit on February 3 to within the scope of less than one hour, between 4:30-5:26 p.m.
After spending a few seconds on the bench, Murray is shown walking northward, past the recognizable Builder's Creed, toward Holly Terrace. He is on the road that leads toward the archway as seen in the footage from MJ's funeral.
He's headed right toward a large gathering of Michael Jackson fans assembled on the Holly Terrace patio, who appear to have unknowingly created a barrier between their beloved King of Pop and Murray & crew.
How far he made it down that road is questionable, but it's a no-brainer guess that he need not have walked much further before seeing many cars parked on the roadway past the overpass. Equally a no-brainer call is the fact that he would not have wanted to run into a group of MJ Fans who were there from 1:30 p.m. until the park closed at 6 p.m., after dark.
Astoundingly, at the same time that Murray was being documented at Memorial Terrace, around the corner devoted Jackson fans were delivering over 200 Valentine's gifts to their fallen idol from grieving fans in 21 different countries, and conducting a prayer circle summoning swift justice for MJ from the suspected culprit responsible for his death, who just happened to be a few yards away.
To say that there would have been no room for negotiations to surrender had a meeting occurred would be an understatement. Most members were among the fans, outraged by the recent politicking surrounding Murray's arraignment, who flooded the Los Angeles District Attorney and LAPD phone lines today, demanding Murray be brought in immediately and in handcuffs.Update 2/5/2010: In going over the events of February 3 with members of the MJFSC today, I was reminded that two young white guys arrived to the Terrace just after everything had been taken inside and the prayer circle had concluded. Some remember them to have been there prior, without cameras, arriving in a black Bronco.
The pair returned carrying professional cameras with large lenses, which is not unusual because people who frequent cemeteries today have nice cameras. When asked if they were there to visit Michael, they responded that no, they were visiting someone else, and had went back to get their cameras to photograph the display of gifts.
In hindsight they were most likely lying. I'd bet the farm that they were the NPG pap arranged to cover Murray. I regret that they were not photographed by myself or anyone else with a camera there that I'm aware of at this time.