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Michael Jackson died of 'acute propofol intoxication,' coroner says [Updated]

August 28, 2009 | 11:52 am

The Los Angeles County coroner's office officially ruled the death of Michael Jackson a homicide and said he died of "acute propofol intoxication."

According to a statement from the coroner: The "manner of death has been ruled homicide. Cause of death was established as acute propofol intoxication. Other conditions contributing to death: benzodiazepine. The drugs propofol and lorazepam were found to be the primary drugs responsible for Mr. Jackson’s death. Other drugs detected were midazolam, diazepam, lidocaine, and ephedrine. The final coroner’s report includes a complete toxicology report that will remain on security hold at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office."

Homicide refers to a death at the hand of another person, but does not necessarily translate to criminal charges. In court papers, the Los Angeles Police Department has identified Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician at the time of his death, as the target of a manslaughter investigation.

Sources familiar with the multiagency investigation have stressed that a manslaughter prosecution is not inevitable, given Jackson’s history of drug use, health problems and other challenges in the case.

According to an affidavit unsealed in Houston last week, Murray told police that Jackson spent his last hours pleading for a dose of a powerful anesthetic.

Murray said he resisted -- fearful that the pop star had developed a dangerous addiction to propofol. Instead, Murray administered the sedatives Valium, lorazepam and midazolam -- five times over six hours. But none put Jackson to sleep and he continued to demand his "milk," the word the doctor said the pop star used for propofol.

Murray said he finally relented and at 10:40 a.m. added the drug to Jackson's intravenous drip, according to the records. That dose -- mixed with the cocktail of other sedatives in the pop star's system -- was enough to kill him, the coroner's office concluded in a preliminary toxicology report, according to the court records.

Authorities have sought records from at least five physicians who treated Jackson as well as pharmacies in Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, but Murray is the only doctor named in court documents as the target of the manslaughter investigation.

Jackson had specifically asked concert promoter AEG Live to hire Murray as his $150,000-a-month physician to travel with him to London, where he was scheduled to perform 50 concerts.

[Corrected at 5:10 p.m.: An earlier version of this post stated that the L.A. County coroner’s office concluded that a dose of the drug propofol administered to Jackson by Dr. Conrad Murray contributed to his death. An affidavit filed by the Los Angeles Police Department stated that Murray gave Jackson propofol shortly before he died. But the coroner’s report said only that Jackson died of "lethal levels" of propofol and did not specify who gave him the dose.]

-- Richard Winton at the Los Angeles County coroner's office, Harriet Ryan and Andrew Blankstein


 

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