Autopsy reveals Michael Jackson’s secrets
By Alan Duke
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Jurors hearing the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial have a stark vision of the dead pop icon after a lawyer showed them an autopsy photo.
Jackson’s unclothed corpse lying on a coroner’s table looked nothing like the world’s most famous entertainer.
The doctor who conducted Jackson’s autopsy returns to the witness stand for a second day Tuesday in the trial to decide if concert promoter AEG Live shares blame in his death with Dr. Conrad Murray.
Much of what jurors heard for the first time is a repeat of the scientific evidence presented in the trial of Murray, who is now serving a prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter. But some of what is in the coroner’s report seems to give more insight into Michael Jackson’s life rather than how he died.
Dr. Christopher Rogers noted in his autopsy report that Jackson’s lips were tattooed pink, while his eyebrows were a dark tattoo. The front of his scalp was also tattooed black, apparently to blend his hairline in with the wigs he wore.
The autopsy confirmed what Jackson told people who questioned why his skin tone became lighter in the 1980s. Jackson had “vitiligo, a skin pigmentation disease,” Rogers said. “So, some areas of the skin appear light and others appear dark.”
Jackson lawyer Michael Koskoff made sure the jury heard that, even though it had nothing to do with how he died.
Jackson’s mother and three children are suing AEG Live, contending the company that was promoting his “This Is It” shows was liable for his death because of the negligent hiring, retention and supervision of Murray.
AEG Live argues that Jackson chose Murray as his tour doctor and that the company had no way of knowing he was using the surgical anesthetic propofol to put the singer to sleep each night.
Rogers concluded that a propofol overdose killed Jackson, although several sedatives Murray gave him that morning contributed to his death.
Los Angeles coroner’s toxicologist Dan Anderson, who studied the drugs in Jackson’s body, testified Monday that the level of propofol found in Jackson’s body was “consistent with major surgery anesthesia.”
Propofol is a dangerous drug when not used properly, he said.
The Los Angeles coroner’s office found 31 deaths in the last 14 years in which propofol was found in a body, including six suicides committed by medical personnel — doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists — who chose the drug to end their lives, Anderson said.
There have also been several homicides with propofol, including “a mercy killing” in a hospital, he testified.
If not for his death by propofol, Jackson’s health appeared good enough for him to live a normal lifespan, Rogers testified.
“There was no indication from the autopsy that there was anything anatomically wrong with him that would lead to premature death,” Rogers said.
He had no signs of being addicted to street drugs, such as needle marks or disease, he said.
That testimony is important for the Jackson case, since if the jury decides AEG is liable in his death, his expected lifespan will be key to calculating damages. Jackson lawyers will contend that he would have made billions of dollars in the remaining years through several more world tours, merchandising, recording and movies.
The next witness up after Rogers Tuesday will be a cardiologist, Dr. Daniel Wohgeternter, who will be called as an expert to offer analysis of Murray’s skills and decisions.