Coroner: No Sign of Trauma, Foul Play in Jackson's Death

The Los Angeles City Fire Department has released the 911 call from Michael Jackson's home to paramedics. Caller says the singer wasn't responding. Video by AP
By Ann Gerhart and Ashley Surdin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 27, 2009

As thousands gathered and wept near Michael Jackson's star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Los Angeles authorities yesterday bore down on the grim task of learning what killed the pop superstar, at 50, as he was about to embark on a lucrative 50-concert comeback tour.

Police seized a car used by a cardiologist who had been with Jackson when paramedics answered a 911 call at the singer's rented mansion Thursday.

The Los Angeles County coroner finished a three-hour autopsy yesterday and found no signs of trauma or foul play.

But spokesman Craig Harvey said a cause of death might not be known for four to six weeks, pending results from toxicology, pulmonary and neuropathology tests. He said Jackson had been taking some prescription drugs, but he refused to identify them.

Detectives talked briefly with cardiologist Conrad R. Murray Jr. and planned to question him more extensively, police said, but the department has not opened a criminal investigation.

"His car was impounded because it may contain medications or other evidence that may assist the coroner in determining the cause of death," police spokeswoman Karen Rayner said. The cardiologist had been hired less than two weeks ago by concert promoters to accompany the singer to London, Jackson associate Tohme Tohme, a physician, told the Los Angeles Times.

Murray is a native of Grenada and a 1989 graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville; he is licensed to practice in California, Nevada and Texas, state records show. His public record in California, where he was licensed in 2005, indicated no formal investigations involving him. Several civil judgments, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, have been issued against him in recent years, according to Nevada and Minnesota court records.

Murray treated Jackson for a cold last year when the singer was living in Las Vegas, Tohme said.

Jackson's parents and his three children remained in seclusion in nearby Encino yesterday. It was unclear who would gain custody of Prince, 12, and Paris, 11, his children with Debbie Rowe. Prince Michael II, 7, also known as "Blanket," is Jackson's child by a surrogate mother who has never been identified.

Facts trickled in and Twittered out during the day, each one seized by a global fan base so hungry for details that Google News initially suspected it was under automated attack, the Internet search giant said.

The audio recording of the 911 call featured a man urgently pleading with dispatchers to send an ambulance for a "gentleman here who needs help. He's not conscious. . . . He's not breathing." A doctor was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the male, the caller said, but he never mentioned that the male in distress was Michael Jackson.

In January 2007, Jackson had settled with a Beverly Hills pharmacy that sued him for more than $100,000 in unpaid bills. The original news of that dispute had gone largely unnoticed; yesterday it turned into cable news scrawl, as did the list of previous Jackson ailments: back pain, painkiller addiction, vitiligo, chest pain.

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