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Family vows legal fight for Jackson kids, estate by Rob Woollard

The family of Michael Jackson vowed to fight for control of the superstar's children and estate and voiced concern over the circumstances of his death amid new revelations about his final hours.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Los Angeles
UPDATED ON JUN 29, 2009 07:59 PM IST

The family of Michael Jackson vowed to fight for control of the superstar's children and estate and voiced concern over the circumstances of his death amid new revelations about his final hours.

The singer's father Joe Jackson said late Sunday he remained concerned about how his son died as the key legal battles expected to dominate the aftermath of the pop icon's death began to take shape.

"I have a lot of concerns. I can't get into that, but I don't like what happened," Jackson, 79, said before the start of a star-studded tribute to his son held by Black Entertainment Television (BET) in Los Angeles.

Sunday's extravaganza was attended by some of the most prominent names in African-American music, acting and sport, and saw Jackson's pop star sister Janet pay emotional homage to her brother.

"My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful so they elected me to speak with all of you," she said.

"I'd just like to say that, to you Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family and he will forever live in all of our hearts."

Meanwhile lawyers for personal physician Conrad Murray -- who was with the pop star in the hours before this death -- went on the offensive Monday, with attorney Edward Chernoff insisting his client was blameless.

"There's nothing in his history, nothing that Dr Murray knew, that would lead him to believe he would go into sudden cardiac arrest or respiratory failure," Chernoff told CNN Monday.

"There was no red flag available to Dr Murray, which led him to believe he would have died the way he did. It's still a mystery how he died."

Speculation has been rife that excessive use of powerful prescription pain killers may have played a role in Jackson's death, but Chernoff insisted that contrary to news reports, Murray "never prescribed nor administered" two particular drugs -- Demerol or Oxycontin -- to Jackson.

He also defended how Murray responded to the immediate crisis after Jackson lost consciousness last week, recounting step-by-step the failed effort by the doctor to revive the singer.

"The doctor compressed his chest with one hand, braced his back with the other hand. He checked to make sure there was blood flow. There was. He was getting blood. In fact, at the time emergency personnel came, he still had a weak pulse," Chernoff told CNN.

When he was unable to bring Jackson around after performing cardio pulmonary resuscitation for "25, 30 minutes" Murray arranged for a security guard at the singer's home to call an ambulance, the attorney said.

Chernoff added that police conducted a second interview with Murray Saturday but had cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing in Jackson's death.

The Jackson family also announced Sunday that they had appointed attorney Londell McMillan to be the sole individual authorized to speak on their behalf.

McMillan told CNN the Jacksons are seeking to secure custody of the late King of Pop's three children and revealed that the family had not yet been granted access to the pop icon's will.

McMillan also said the family was "closely watching" the progress of the official investigation into Jackson's death. The family already has hired a private pathologist who has carried out a second autopsy on Jackson.

Asked about the fate of the pop star's three children, McMillan said their grandmother Katherine would seek custody, raising the possibility of a bitter legal battle.

"She will seek custody of the children. She loves them dearly," the spokesman told CNN.

"They're in a loving environment. She's a great grandma. I couldn't think of anyone better for these children than a grandma like Miss Katherine Jackson and the loving support of family of the Jacksons."

McMillan also revealed the family had not yet seen Jackson's will, and was uncertain if one existed. If Jackson had not left a will his assets would go to his next of kin under California law, McMillan said.

"If there's no will then under the state of California it goes to the next of kin, that's an adult administering and overseeing for the best interests of the children...," McMillan said.

Jackson's family have yet to finalize funeral plans and were due to meet activist Reverend Al Sharpton Monday to discuss plans for a tribute.

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