Michael Jackson ducks out of hospital. A day and a half after he's admitted for a flu bout that postponed his trial, he's discharged out the back door to avoid paparazzi

By Gary Susman
February 15, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Michael Jackson was discharged from the hospital Wednesday after a day and a half, but mystery continues to surround the sudden illness that forced a one-week postponement of his trial. Reporters and paparazzi camped at Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, Calif., did not see the pop star leave, apparently because he was spirited away in a convoy of black SUVs that picked him up at the hospital’s loading dock. Jackson spokeswoman Raymone Bain confirmed to the Associated Press that he spent Wednesday night at home at Neverland.

On the way to court on Tuesday morning, Jackson had apparently become violently ill and was taken instead to the hospital. Judge Melville told potential jurors Jackson, who had appeared healthy during his court appearance on Monday, had a flu bug. Still, little was known about his condition throughout Wednesday, even as Jackson entertained visits from his parents and brother Jermaine, and as a hand that appeared to be Jackson’s poked through the curtains of his room to wave a cryptic sign at fans that read, ”I love more.” Upon the 46-year-old’s discharge, however, the hospital’s emergency room chief, Dr. Todd Bailey, gave a statement to reporters, saying, ”Mr. Jackson continues to be in stable condition and remains under observation at this time. He continues to need care for some persistent viral symptoms, but otherwise he’s in good spirits.” Jury selection in the trial will resume on Feb. 22.