The Los Angeles County coroner is now unofficially concluding homicide as Michael Jackson’s cause of death, according to a search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday in Houston.
The affidavit, in its “statement of probable cause,” quotes Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office officials as saying the pop star’s body contained lethal levels of propofol when he died, according to a copy obtained by The Daily Beast.
The affidavit discloses that when coroner’s office investigators and Robbery Homicide Division detectives arrived at Jackson’s home the morning of his death on June 25, they found “numerous bottles of medications prescribed to Jackson by his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, including the muscle relaxant Valium; the antianxiety drug Ativan; Restoril, a benzodiazepine used for insomnia; and Flomax, a drug usually used for prostate problems. Other antianxiety meds, Klonopin and Trazadone, were prescribed by Dr. Allan Metzger. And Zanaflex, a short-acting muscle relaxant prescribed by Jackson’s dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, was found at the pop star’s bedside.
“Not everything in the affidavit is fact. The timeline is theory. The statement about him leaving the room is just made up.”
According to the affidavit, Murray told authorities that Jackson was having trouble sleeping the night of June 24. Believing that Jackson was developing an addiction to propofol, Murray said he had been trying to wean him off the powerful anesthesia for some time, but with little success. He even initially withheld using the drug.
The affidavit says that on the night Jackson died, Murray administered the milder Valium at 1:30 a.m. With Jackson still awake, he next tried giving him an injection of lorazepam at 2 a.m. followed by midazolam, an extra short-acting benzodiazepine derivative used for insomnia. When those failed to put Jackson to sleep, according to the affidavit, Murray said he then administered 25 milligrams of propofol, which instantly put Jackson out.
The cardiologist, according to the affidavit, told detectives he left Jackson alone to go to the bathroom for a few minutes and even made phone calls to his Houston office and family members. When Murray returned, he found Jackson had stopped breathing. He immediately began performing CPR as one of the entertainer’s employees dialed 911.
When asked about the details revealed in the affidavit, Murray’s lead defense attorney, Ed Chernoff, told The Daily Beast bluntly that, “Not everything in the affidavit is fact. The timeline is theory. The statement about him leaving the room is just made up. It’s all a police theory, not based on fact.”
For those following the case, Monday's developments bring the possibility of a criminal indictment against Murray ever closer. But the defense says it is patiently waiting to present its case, and that when it does, what appears to some legal analysts to be a “slam dunk” will turn into a much more complicated and difficult case for the prosecution to prove.
Gerald Posner is The Daily Beast's chief investigative reporter. He's the award-winning author of 10 investigative nonfiction bestsellers, ranging from political assassinations, to Nazi war criminals, to 9/11, to terrorism. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, the author Trisha Posner.