After being just a few yards away from Dr. Conrad Murray last Wednesday when he had the gall to show up at Forest Lawn Glendale, I was not about to miss seeing him finally surrender to authorities yesterday for involuntary manslaughter charges in the Michael Jackson death case.
Arriving early, about 8:30 a.m., to chronicle the media circus outside the court, I counted 15 satellite trucks, upwards of 25 local, national and international television and radio crews, and dozens of still photographers. One cameraman told me they were there at 3:30 a.m. setting up the trucks for morning news on-scene reporting.
Considering the reports that the Los Angeles Sheriff Department was going to have tight security to protect Murray against angry Jackson fans, the scene was pretty relaxed. News crews and gawkers were standing around quietly talking to each other or on cell phones, many drinking coffee and eating breakfast available inside the court's public cafeteria.
Fans carrying signs began arriving shortly after I got there. They let their printed words do the talking but nonetheless were moved to the rear of the building away from the media. A deputy told me the gameplan was to keep obvious protesters 150 feet away from all entrances.
As the morning wore on, media made their way over to the group, who by now were holding up an 80 foot banner declaring "The King of Pop - Michael Jackson - Gone Too Soon." Eventually, fan protesters were again mingling, peacefully, among the media in front of the court with no attempt by law enforcement to stop them.
Around 11:00 a.m. the media was told that the expected criminal complaint of manslaughter had been filed against Murray by prosecutors inside the court, alleging he acted "unlawfully, and without malice [to] kill Michael Joseph Jackson." The complaint included Jackson's autopsy report results. The Smoking Gun supplies details.
Members of the Jackson Family arrived to the court at 11:48 a.m. in a four vehicle caravan lead by Michael Jackson's own dark blue Escalade. Included were his parents, Joseph and Katharine, brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine, and sister LaToya. Brother Randy arrived minutes later on his own, and when he first drove up a cry of "Murray's here" rang out from the scrambling media. Oops.
My friends from the Michael Jackson Fans of Southern California entered the court behind the Jacksons, went with the flow to the ninth floor and obtained the scant three available public seats inside the courtroom via a lottery.
One hour later, at 12:47 p.m., Murray arrived, sans handcuffs, escorted by two deputies and what appeared to be a bodyguard, to the angry chants of "Murderer" and "Justice for Michael," from the fans. Many fans, after having seen him, broke down in tears. I'm still trying to absorb what I felt, all of it punctuated by a recurring cold chill down my back.
MJFSC members Erin Jacobs and Antoinette Albert told me that they came face-to-face with Murray as he was led down the outer hall and that he stared them up and down before lowering his head. Inside the courtroom everyone sat quiet and stoicly, waiting for Murray's case to be called, around 2:00 p.m. See the media pool feed of the arraignment in its entirety at TMZ.
Murray plead not guilty, Judge Keith Schwartz released him on $75,000 bail and he was booked. The case was continued to April 5, at which time prosecution will present evidence they believe will show that Murray's "gross negligence" directly caused Jackson's death.
Judge Schwartz cited a change in venue for all future proceedings to the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Dept. 100, in downtown Los Angeles, because the Airport Courthouse is not set up for the security needed surrounding this particular case. Other famous cases tried there include the trials of O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector.
From inside the courtroom, Randy tweeted his disgust over who from his brother's professional life didn't show up. (Everyone.)
After the proceedings, the Jackson family caravan was moved to the rear of the building as fans and media scrambled to record the happenings. RadarOnline supplies ample coverage. Heidi Heidel from MJFSC told me that she had a chance to offer words of support to Joseph as he left, and that he told her "this is not justice."
Murray's white vehicle, which had been parked behind the Jackson family caravan after his arrival, sped away without him in it while media further scrambled to find out where he exited the building. Never did see him go.
Murray's defense team held a press conference, backdropped by fans and their signs. Likewise, the chants of "Murderer" were heard as they left the microphone stand.
More of my photos from the day here on Flickr.