Lethal levels of anesthetic were found in his body, court documents reveal

By Ken Lee
Updated August 24, 2009 06:25 PM
Houston Chronicle/AP; Globe

After an autopsy of Michael Jackson found lethal levels of the anesthetic propofol in his body, the Los Angeles County Coroner has reportedly ruled the singer’s death a homicide, the Associated Press reports.

When reached by PEOPLE, the coroner’s office had no comment. The homicide finding – meaning death at the hands of another – is only one of five rulings a coroner can make in a death investigation. Among the others: natural, suicide, accident, and “could not be determined.”

The Jackson family released a statement Monday afternoon commending the work of authorities in the case. “The Jackson family has full confidence in the legal process, and commends the ongoing efforts of the L.A. County Coroner, the L.A. District Attorney and the L.A. Police Department,” the statement said. “The family looks forward to the day that justice can be served.”

In a related Jackson development, details from a search warrant affidavit unsealed in Houston detailed the singer’s final hours, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Drug Cocktail

According to the seach warrant, Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, told LAPD detectives that he had been treating the singer for insomnia for about six weeks, and had been giving Jackson 50 milligrams of propofol every night intravenously. Jackson referred to propofol, a cloudy white fluid, as his “milk,” according to the affidavit.

But Murray told police he was worried Jackson was becoming addicted to the powerful anesthetic and tried to ease him off it. Murray said he reduced the singer’s dosage to 25 milligrams and added two other sedatives, lorazepam and midazolam, the Times reports. On June 23, two days before Jackson’s death, Murray administered those two medications and withheld the propofol.

On the morning the singer died, Dr. Murray tried to help Jackson sleep without using propofol, according to the paper. Murray told detectives he gave the singer valium at 1:30 a.m., and then injected lorazepam through an IV at 2 a.m. An hour later, when Jackson was still awake, Murray gave him midazolam, according to the report.

Left Alone

Over the next few hours, Murray said he gave Jackson various drugs. Then at 10:40 a.m., Murray administered 25 milligrams of propofol after Jackson repeatedly demanded the drug, according to the affidavit.

Murray told detectives that after he administered Jackson’s last dose of propofol, he stepped away from the singer for only two minutes to use the restroom. When he returned, Murray said, he found Jackson wasn’t breathing and immediately began CPR.

However, detectives later obtained Murray’s phone records, and found Murray was on the phone with three separate callers for approximately 47 minutes shortly after he allegedly found Jackson not breathing.

While Murray performed CPR, one of Jackson s staff members called 911. The singer was then rushed to UCLA Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

In the ensuing investigation, detectives found about eight bottles of propofol in Jackson’s rented Holmby Hills mansion as well as other vials and pills that had been prescribed to Jackson by Dr. Murray, and two longtime Jackson physicians, Dr. Arnold Klein and Dr. Allan Metzger, according to the affidavit.

Injection Marks

Other drugs that were confiscated in the search included Valium, Tamsulosin, Lorazepam, Temazepam, Clonazepam, Trazodone and Tizanidine, Times reports. They also found propofol in Murray s medical bag. However, Murray told police he wasn’t the first doctor to administer propofol to Jackson.

Since he began treating the pop star, Murray said he repeatedly asked Jackson what other doctors were treating the singer and what drugs they were prescribing to him. But Jackson declined to provide the information, the affidavit reads.

Murray said he noticed injection marks on Jackson’s hands and feet. When he asked the singer about them, Jackson told him he had been given a “cocktail” to help him.

Murray, who is the subject of an ongoing manslaughter investigation, has denied any wrongdoing in the singer’s death.