Carver County Attorney Mark Metz revealed no criminal charges can be filed involving the death of Prince because of insufficient evidence

By Jordan Runtagh
April 19, 2018 02:25 PM
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No criminal charges will be filed following the investigation into Prince‘s sudden death.

Prosecutors in his home state of Minnesota made the announcement Thursday regarding the outcome of the investigation into the music legend’s drug-related passing on April 21, 2016.

In a press conference, Carver County Attorney Mark Metz revealed no criminal charges can be filed because of insufficient evidence.

“We simply do not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime related to Prince’s death,” Metz said in the press conference, held at 11:30 AM local time in the Minnesota town of Chaska.

Prince
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty

During the announcement, the attorney revealed that Prince was addicted to opioid painkillers; while the pills found in his Paisley Park compound were labeled as Watson 853 (or Vicodin), the medication was counterfeit and laced with the potent and addictive drug fentanyl.

“In all likelihood Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him,” said Metz, who noted there is no evidence the counterfeit drugs Prince ingested were prescribed by a doctor or that there was “sinister motive to murder Prince.”

During the press conference, Metz revealed that Dr. Michael T. Schulenberg — a local physician who prescribed painkillers to Prince’s assistant, Kirk Johnson, knowing the musician would be using them — “is being held accountable.” Per Metz, Schulenberg reached a civil settlement out of court with U.S. Attorney’s office in Minnesota; he was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and will also be monitored for two years by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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The results come following a two-year investigation into Prince’s death, which was determined to be due to an overdose of the opiate fentanyl — commonly prescribed to aid in pain management.

“Prince’s death is a tragic example that opioid addiction and overdose deaths do not discriminate,” Metz said, wrapping the press conference.

A toxicology report from the late singer’s autopsy released last month states the concentration of fentanyl in his blood was 67.8 micrograms per liter according to the Associated Press.

Fatalities from the drug — which is estimated to be 80 times as potent as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin — have been documented in people with blood levels ranging from three to 58 micrograms per liter.

“The amount in [Prince’s] blood is exceedingly high, even for somebody who is a chronic pain patient on fentanyl patches,” Dr. Lewis Nelson, chairman of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, previously told the AP.

In addition, the toxicology report states the level of fentanyl in the Prince’s liver was 450 micrograms per kilogram and notes that liver concentrations greater than 69 micrograms per kilogram “seem to represent overdose or fatal toxicity cases.”

LAMedia Collection/Sunshine/Zuma

Prince was 57 when he was found dead in his Paisley Park compound on April 21, 2016. The autopsy was completed the next day. In June 2016, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office revealed the singer died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl.

Unsealed court documents released in April 2017 revealed that investigators discovered a number of prescription drugs hidden away inside Prince’s famed Paisley Park compound. In addition to the medication, investigators also discovered opioids in multiple areas of Paisley Park and stored in containers other than pill vials, including vitamin bottles.

Fentanyl was also the cause of death for singer Tom Petty, who died on Oct. 2, 2017 at age 66.