April 26, 2013 at 8:05 AM ET
It's been four years since Michael Jackson died, but the legal wrangling following his death continues. A jury has now been empaneled in the lawsuit brought by Jackson's mother and children against AEG Live, the promoter of his final "This is It" tour, and one potential key figure at that trial will likely be Dr. Conrad Murray.
Murray, who served as Jackson's doctor, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death in 2011, and on Friday he phoned TODAY from his jail cell to talk with Savannah Guthrie, with his lawyer Valerie Wass in the studio.
All along, Murray has denied being responsible for Jackson's death, and maintains that assertion today: "(I take) not any responsibility as it relates to his death," said Murray. "I am sorry that I lost Michael as a friend and as a patient. ... I have lost a very dear friend and a dear person to me, and it's going to remain with me for the rest of my life, but I'm not going to accept responsibility for anything I did not do."
At this new trial, lawyers for the Jackson family are likely to argue that AEG Live is liable because they hired Murray. In theory, the company would have had a financial interest in ensuring the singer was healthy and able to perform as contractually obligated, which may have created a conflict in their oversight of Dr. Murray.
As Guthrie pointed out, there appeared to be clear negligence in that the drug that killed Jackson -- the singer died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication that brought on cardiac arrest -- was found in the room after Murray left Jackson unattended. "I met Michael Jackson with his own stash of medication," insisted Murray. "I tried to get rid of the propofol from Michael Jackson. He might not have liked the approach that I took, but nonetheless the circumstances were to actually get him away from that agent."
Wass spoke up to say that when Murray left Jackson alone in the room on the night he died, the singer was on a saline drip. "Jackson was not on a propofol drip," she said and added that however Jackson gained access to the propofol that killed him, it was never determined whether it came from "his own sources" or from Murray.
Murray says being in prison "has been one of my most horrendous experiences. ... I have only survived because of the loving hope and the support that I get from various individuals and I would especially like to say that my girlfriend Nicole Alvarez has been just tremendous."
Murray may be released in a few months due to prison overcrowding, and is appealing his conviction. Opening statements in the trial are set for Monday.