Four years later, Michael Jackson fans gather to remember untimely death

Four years to the day that the world was shocked by news of Michael Jackson’s death, hundreds of fans gathered Tuesday in front of his final resting place — the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale — to recall an icon who continues to inspire.

Fans from all walks of life, and around the globe, lingered in front of the famed mausoleum, chanting “Michael” and leaving behind thousands of red roses.

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“He was a very giving and a special person to me,” said Reeta Pursiainen, who flew in from Finland on Friday for the anniversary. “Everyone is here for one reason and one reason only.”

Four years after Jackson died from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol, his death continues to grab headlines. A lawsuit filed by his family accuses concert promoter AEG Live and two of its executives of negligently hiring and supervising Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of administering the deadly dose of propofol.

Murray is currently serving time in jail after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Jackson's mother and three children filed the lawsuit against AEG, which was producing a series of concerts that the singer was to headline before his untimely death. The entertainment giant contends Murray worked for Jackson and that any money it was supposed to pay the doctor was an advance to the singer.

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The accusations, which have played out in a Los Angeles courtroom now for days, have kept the lid off any sense of closure for fans like 20-year-old Irvine resident Christie Marchi.

Standing in front of the mausoleum with two friends, Marchi said the trial has opened the door to “irrelevant things” about Jackson’s life, including child molestation claims, but they haven’t diminished his standing.

“I have always been a fan,” she said.

Jackson’s burial at Forest Lawn set off a media frenzy, with reporters dispatched from around the world to cover the parade of stars and family members who attended the ceremony.

And every year since then, throngs of fans — including the obligatory impersonators — have arrived at the picturesque Great Mausoleum with flowers, posters and other mementos to commemorate Jackson’s death.

This year, admirers from the fan group One Rose 4 MJJ placed thousands of roses outside the mausoleum that had been collected from fans all over the world, according to member Melanie Freeman, who lives in Arizona.

“Many of these fans can’t be here today,” she said. “This is personal for them. They know that part of their heart and Michael, as [part of] their family, is here. It means a lot to them.”

Los Angeles Times staff writer Jeff Gottlieb contributed to this report.

-- Jason Wells and Veronica Rocha,

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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