L.A. Coroner Confirms Michael Jackson's Death Was Homicide

By Ashley Surdin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 29, 2009

LOS ANGELES -- Michael Jackson's death has been ruled a homicide, the Los Angeles County coroner announced Friday.

The ruling means Jackson died at the hands of another, but whether criminal activity is involved -- such as gross negligence or intent to harm -- remains undetermined.

Search warrants executed by police and the Drug Enforcement Administration at the home and offices of Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician who was with him in the hours before he died, indicate they are investigating the possibility of manslaughter, excessive use of prescribing medication and prescribing to an addict.

"The drugs propofol and lorazepam were found to be the primary drugs responsible for Mr. Jackson's death," said the coroner's office in a statement.

Propofol is an anesthetic drug used intravenously to put patients to sleep. Lorazepam is an anti-anxiety medication used for insomnia and panic attacks. Other drugs detected in Jackson's body were midazolam, diazepam, lidocaine and ephedrine, according to the statement.

The final and full report, including the complete toxicology results, will remain on security hold at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County district attorney, according to the statement. The coroner's office declined to comment further on its investigation.

The announcement confirms what was made public earlier this week in an unsealed affidavit, in which the coroner's office was said to believe that Jackson died in his rented Westwood mansion June 25 from a deadly dose of propofol.

The affidavit, unsealed Monday, noted that Murray, 51, had been treating Jackson for insomnia for about six weeks, and had been giving the singer 50 milligrams of propofol every night using an intravenous drip. Murray said he feared Jackson was forming an addiction and tried to wean him off, the report notes, but he gave Jackson the drug on the day of his death after the sleepless singer didn't respond to several other drugs over several hours.

Murray said he monitored Jackson for 10 minutes after administering the drug, then left to use the restroom, according to the report. When he returned a few minutes later, the report notes, Jackson was no longer breathing.

Although the investigation has chiefly targeted Murray, authorities are looking into Jackson's other doctors.

The coroner has subpoenaed medical records from general practitioner Allan Metzger, anesthesiologists David Adams and Randy Rosen, and holistic nurse practitioner Cherilyn Lee, who has said that Jackson unsuccessfully requested propofol from her, telling her he would "pay a doctor anything" for the drug. Officials have also subpoenaed records from Arnold Klein, Jackson's longtime dermatologist, who recently expressed an interest in matters pertaining to Jackson's children during a custody hearing, but was denied legal standing by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Authorities also reportedly searched a Beverly Hills pharmacy in the same building as Klein's office.

Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company