LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The family of Michael Jackson gathered to discuss funeral arrangements for the tragic pop icon Monday after vowing to fight for custody of the music superstar's children and control of his estate.
Members of the musical clan were expected to meet activist Reverend Al Sharpton at the family compound in Los Angeles to finalize plans for a fitting memorial for Jackson, who died last week aged 50.
Sharpton arrived in Los Angeles late Sunday and was due to meet Jackson's family at 9:15 am local time (1615 GMT).
"I'm here to make sure Michael gets in death what he never got in life -- he never got credit," Sharpton said Sunday.
"He was not a freak, he's a genius," he said. "He was not somebody who was eccentric, he was innovative and that innovation smashed barriers and he should be given a lot more credit than he's been given."
Reports have said Jackson's family is considering a series of simultaneous memorial services around the world for the singer, reflecting the huge global reach of an artist who sold more than 750 million records.
Family members attended an awards show Sunday dedicated to African-American entertainers which became a star-studded celebration of Jackson's life, featuring an emotional tribute from his sister Janet.
"My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful so they elected me to speak with all of you," Janet Jackson 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."
Plans for Jackson's funeral come as the star's family moved to assert control of the singer's affairs, vowing to seek custody of his three children and gain access to his estate.
A lawyer for the family, Londell McMillan, revealed the family had not yet seen a copy of the star'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.
Details from Friday's preliminary examination of Jackson's body were published in Britain's The Sun newspaper on Monday after the daily said it had seen a copy of the autopsy report.
According to the paper, pathologists found Jackson's stomach empty apart from partially-dissolved pills. Jackson's body was also reported to have weighed only 50.8 kilograms (112 pounds) at the time of his death.
The singer had also received several broken ribs as a result of attempts to revive him, the paper added.
Meanwhile lawyers for personal physician Conrad Murray -- who was with the pop star in the hours before this death -- went on the offensive, 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.
Chernoff added that police conducted a second interview with Murray Saturday but had cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing in Jackson's death.