Michael Jackson’s Doctor, Lindsay Lohan Top Celebrity Cases at L.A. Criminal Courts
Nearly eight months after pop superstar Michael Jackson died from an overdose of a powerful prescription sedative, his personal physician was in court to face the music on an involuntary manslaughter charge stemming from the singer’s death.
Many of Jackson’s family members, a slew of reporters and a small contingent of fans were on hand in early February as Dr. Conrad Murray appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom hours after he was charged in Jackson’s June 25, 2009, death at a rented estate in Holmby Hills.
A packed courtroom is expected again Jan. 4 for the start of a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require the doctor — described by one of his attorneys as a friend of the music legend — to stand trial on the felony charge.
Meanwhile, actress Lindsay Lohan was dogged by reporters and TV crews during her frequent appearances at the Beverly Hills courthouse on a pair of DUI cases.
The troubled former child star’s latest batch of legal trouble ensued when she failed to show up for one mandatory hearing.
She was eventually ordered to serve 90 days in jail for violating her probation by missing multiple classes in a court-ordered alcohol education program.
She ended up serving 13 days behind bars before being taken to a rehabilitation program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where she spent just over three weeks.
Lohan was back in court again in September after confirming in a Twitter posting that she had failed a court-ordered drug test.
A judge ordered her to spend a month in jail without bail for that slip-up, but was quickly overruled by an assistant supervising judge, who ruled that Lohan was entitled to bail.
Lohan wrapped up the year at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, with the judge telling her that she could face 180 days in jail if she violated her probation again.
More than a year and a half after being charged, Anna Nicole Smith’s longtime companion and a psychiatrist who used to live next door to the Playboy Playmate-turned-reality-TV star were convicted in October of conspiracy involving prescription drugs that were funneled to Smith under other names.
Howard K. Stern and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich are awaiting sentencing in early January, with their attorneys asking a judge to either dismiss the charges or reduce them from felonies to misdemeanors.
Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, who was charged along with Stern and Eroshevich, was acquitted of a half-dozen charges.
A few months later, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said he thought the verdict was “a relatively good result,” and said he thought the case could prompt public discussion on the “significant problem of prescription drug abuse.”
The county’s top prosecutor wasn’t so happy with the Swiss government’s decision this summer not to extradite Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, who fled Los Angeles more than 30 years ago to avoid sentencing for having unlawful sex with a minor.
The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police announced that the decision was made because U.S. authorities had failed to turn over certain documents relating to the extradition request. Cooley countered that prosecutors had done everything required of them.
In other developments:
— Olympic gold-medal winning gymnast Shawn Johnson came to court and told a judge that she had canceled public appearances and limited her movements after a Florida man hopped a fence at the studio where she was competing in the TV show “Dancing with the Stars.” Robert Michael O’Ryan was convicted of stalking her, but was found to have been legally insane at the time of the crime and sent to a state mental hospital.
— A man pleaded no contest to stalking former “The Hills” actress — and another recent “Dancing with the Stars” contestant — Audrina Patridge — was sentenced to two years in prison. Zachary Loring, who had been served with a civil restraining order, was arrested in February after knocking on the door of Patridge’s home in the Hollywood Hills.
— Chidi Benjamin Uzomah Jr., who showed up to see “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest at the E! studio, was also sentenced to two years in prison after pleading no contest to stalking Seacrest.
— A woman pleaded no contest to a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon for a June 17, 2005, run-in with Leonardo DiCaprio, in which the “Titanic” star was hit with a wine glass and suffered an injury that required stitches. Aretha Wilson was sentenced to two years in prison.
— R&B singer Chris Brown continued to receive glowing remarks from a judge praising him for his performance on probation stemming from a February 2009 assault on his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. He is due back in court next month.
— Former Food Network chef Juan-Carlos Cruz was sentenced to nine years in prison for soliciting two homeless men to kill his wife.
— “Bling Ring” burglar Alexis Neiers pleaded no contest to residential burglary for a July 2009 break-in at actor Orlando Bloom’s home.
She served 29 days of her six-month jail sentence, then was ordered just before the year’s end to spend a year in a live-in drug treatment program after she admitted violating her probation by possessing heroin.
Five other people who were charged along with Neiers are awaiting trial on a series of burglaries at celebrities’ homes.