Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Michael Jackson's doctor left singer alone after giving him powerful drug, sources say

Michael Jackson smiles for cameras at the announcement of nominations for the 1995 MTV Video Awards on July 25. Jackson's video for "Scream'' was nominated for 11 awards that year.

Michael Jackson’s personal physician left the performer alone and under the influence of a powerful anesthetic to make telephone calls the morning the pop singer died, according to three people familiar with the investigation.

By the time he returned, Jackson had stopped breathing, the sources said.

Dr. Conrad Murray, identified in court records as a suspect in a police manslaughter investigation, legally acquired the operating room drug, propofol, from a Las Vegas pharmacy and gave it to Jackson as treatment for insomnia, said the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because the investigation is ongoing.

In an interview with Los Angeles police detectives two days after Jackson’s death, Murray acknowledged obtaining and administering the medication, the sources said. He reportedly told police that the singer had returned to his rented Holmby Hills mansion in the early hours of June 25 exhausted from a lengthy concert rehearsal but was unable to sleep.


Jackson had been using propofol as a sleep aid on and off for a decade, according to one law enforcement source. Murray told investigators that he had given Jackson doses of the drug repeatedly since taking a $150,000-a-month job as his doctor in May, the sources said.

The 51-year-old cardiologist told detectives that because there had never been a problem in the past, he felt comfortable leaving Jackson alone to place calls on his cellphone, the sources said. It’s unclear how long Murray was out of Jackson’s bedroom.

When Murray returned, the 50-year-old pop star was not breathing. Murray performed CPR on Jackson, and another person called 911. Paramedics arrived and rushed Jackson to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m.

Murray has maintained that he did nothing wrong. His attorney, Edward Chernoff, has repeatedly declined to say whether his client gave Jackson propofol. Asked Wednesday about the version of events outlined by the sources, the lawyer said: “I’m not going to dispute the police officers' claims in that regard. They were there at the interview, and Dr. Murray did not lie to them. But they are not telling the whole story.”

Chernoff confirmed that the doctor had spent time on the phone talking to family members and employees in his medical offices before he discovered Jackson stricken in a bedroom. Investigators pursuing the case have focused on whether Murray’s use of propofol outside the hospital setting and his decision to leave Jackson alone rose to a level of negligence required for an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has concluded its investigation into Jackson’s death but, at the request of the LAPD, has not released its findings. Evidence gathered during the investigation suggests that the propofol admission alone might not be enough to charge Murray with manslaughter.

Other prescription drugs, including an anti-anxiety medication, were found in Jackson’s system along with a limited amount of propofol. The law enforcement source said the presence of the other drugs without a massive amount of propofol could complicate any prosecution.

The other drugs may have amplified the effect of the anesthetic and depressed Jackson’s breathing, sources said. Another factor is Jackson’s history of drug addiction and his prior use of propofol in particular. In an interview Wednesday, Chernoff suggested that Murray did not realize what he was signing up for when he agreed to become Jackson’s doctor.

“When he accepted the job, he was not aware of any specific requirements regarding medications that Michael Jackson was taking or any addictions that he was suffering from,” Chernoff said.

But after relocating to Los Angeles, “he realized that Michael Jackson had some very unusual problems,” the lawyer said.

Chernoff criticized what he called selective leaks by investigators and said they had rushed to portray Murray as guilty and the anesthetic as the cause of death. “From the beginning, they leaked that propofol killed him. It has appeared the investigation was designed to support a conclusion they already made with regard to Dr. Murray,” the lawyer said.

He said it was evident from their searches of Murray’s properties in Las Vegas and Houston that investigators thought drugs other than propofol played a role in the death. Investigators were looking for evidence that the doctor prescribed Jackson the other medications, he said.

“I have no doubt they came up completely empty in that regard,” he said.

Murray is one of at least five doctors whose conduct is being examined by the LAPD with the aid of the Drug Enforcement Administration in connection with Jackson. Although several have had records subpoenaed by the coroner’s office, Murray is the only one to be publicly identified as a suspect.

Dmitry Gorin, a defense lawyer who was a deputy district attorney, said that to prove involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors would have to show that Murray’s conduct was reckless to the point that no reasonable physician would consider such a course of treatment.

 “They’d use medical experts to show that the lack of monitoring equipment, lack of staff and leaving the room was so beyond the pale of what a professional would do,” Gorin said.

-- Harriet Ryan, Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

More photos and video at www.latimes.com/michaeljackson

Comments () | Archives (102)

i feel in my heart that he is guilty may you RIP MICHAEL

Sorry, but I don't see what the big deal will be prosecuting this guy. No medical professional on earth is going to say that giving a drug that is suppose to be used as an anesthetic for surgery or a surgical procedure, which never should be out of a medical setting, is ok to use in someone's home bedroom as a sleep aid. Doesn't matter that he didn't have the proper equipment, and doesn't matter that he left him...those are just icing on the cake. That's gross negligence. And I don't see any juror with half a brain not seeing the gross negligence for use of this drug in a home for insomnia.

just because he had done okay with the diprovan before doesnt mean he always will. he should have never never left him alone

A Black man is in trouble and I don't see Al Sharpton or Rev. Jesse Jackson comming to his aide! Oh I know, its cause a Black man killed another Blackman! This guy killed MJ and deserves what he gets. JMO.

Isn't everyone sick to death of hearing about all of this garbage. He died, sorry about that, but we have IMPORTANT things in our lives our world to be concerned about and writing about.....this should be relegated to page 23 or 24 news!

let the man rest in peace ever since the man died that's all that is talk about. LET THE MAN REST IN PEACE PLEASE! Yes, I miss him but people are talking about him too much.

Michael Jackson will be missed Peace out!

Hopefully people will learn and remember this, from this sad case of Michael Jackson -- All the moaning and groaning doctors do about malpractice suits is BULL.

As this article suggests, the standard of care LEGALLY required of a physician is VERY VERY low. Thus, it is VERY VERY hard to convict a doctor of either malpractice or involuntary manslaughter.

A doctor practically has to blow you away with a shotgun in front of a dozen everyday citizens -- because "their own" won't "turn in" even the worst doctors -- to get convicted of either malpractice or involuntary manslaughter.

And the POOR SERVICES provided by these inappropriate doctors contributes to the run-away costs of health care. In addition, it's the inappropriate doctors who cause the high malpractice premiums -- NOT the people who attempt to recover damages from them.

I have never filed a malpractice suit. I have worked in the health care system for over 25 years.

I think the doctor should not have left the room.Please get him for involuntary manslaughter.Michael will still be here if he would of stay in the room with him.

There is much more to this case than the immediate cause of Michael Jackson’s death, however, I believe that money will buy-out justice. The anomalies began with Michael Jackson’s music company executives and promoters, which is where investigations should start. It would be unfortunate if his family settles for a few dollars more also…

This case, as butchered as it may be, mirrors our core value system. Remember:
“We Are The World”

Why couldn't he make the calls from his bedside ? he used a cell phone. Oh, he probably has AT&T, no signal. Maybe Joe jackson can sue the wireless provider for manslaughter.

I bet if LAPD stopped me for having an open beer in my car, they would slap the cuffs on me stat. But you can kill someone with a drug and walk away.

I feel that leaving the patient unmonitered rises is criminal. It is unacceptable in a hospital setting. I feel this reported fact definitely demonstrated a conscious disregard for all life, 2nd degree murder with malice aforethought.

This makes me incredibly sad for Michael's entire family and for Dr Murray.

If the reports are true; Why did Dr. Murray leave him??? Why? I believe he didn't intend to kill Michael, but to administer such a powerful drug and then leave him? Isn't that GROSS negligence?

May God Rest Michael's soul and may God have mercy on Dr. Murray.

it is up most discusting for a doctor knowingly whathe is injecting into a person and not monitoring him by leaving he room is malpractice.

This dr is an idiot
I dont care how much money he was making, if he had any brains at all he would have never agreed to administer anestesia to anyone outside of a hospital. He was greedy and in debt, so he risked someones life......I dont care if that person was asking for medication or what people consider an addict. It was this doctors responsibility to say no way and move on.

His actions killed Michael Jackson

It is unbelievable that Murray (he does not deserve the title of Dr.) would administer propofol in a home setting without proper monitoring systems AND leave the room (for God's sake, why would he need to leave the room to talk on his cell phone if MJ was "out"?). It has also been reported that MJ had the generic form of Xanax, alprazolam, "the other anti-anxiety med" in his system. If you simply look up either Diprivan/propofol and Xanax/alprazolam, you will see that they are both sedatives and are KNOWN to to interact with each other EXACTLY as described to "amply the effects." Chernoff's statement that Murray was unaware of what was expected of him and unaware of MJ's medical/drug history at the time he took the job only furthers the obvious...Murray didn't know what the hell he was doing, and wasn't responsible enough to do the right thing...bow out. I believe Murray's actions are SOOOOO VERRRYYYY beyond the pale of what any medical professional would do, that they rise to 2nd degree murder. Murray needs to spend many many years in prison, and he should never be allowed to touch another living human being as any level of medical professional.

Propofol isn't indicated for insomnia. It's an IV anesthetic that must be monitored constantly by a trained medical professional such as an ICU RN, CRNA, or anesthesiologist.

I read that the bedroom Michael Jackson was found in was extremely hot and that a fireplace was lite. There was also a report of oxygen tanks in the room. Oxygen is highly flammable. What doctor in his right mind would have them both in the same room, and then give a patient any strong meds without supervision. This doctor, regardless of any prosecution should have his medical license revoked. This shows lack of professionalism. No excuses for this.

Why did it take so long to call paramedics? Too many unanswered questions remain.

It is easy to blame the doctor here, if events indeed were as portrayed. But does anyone have any doubt that if this doctor refused to give Michael this drug, MJ would have found another who would? Maybe the doctor contributed to this happening at this moment, but honestly, the ultimate blame almost certainly lies with MJ himself. He insisted on this crazy cocktail, which included all the other drugs he was on, after he had been explicitly told by friends and family members that he was killing himself. Most who did that were dismissed from his entourage, as would this doctor have been. This was a world of MJ's own making - sad, pain-filled, and tragic - and before we come down too hard on the doctor, let us consider that maybe he saved Michael from killing himself at some earlier time, or saved another doctor for being blamed for the inevitable outcome of MJ's drug addiction.

This doctor is guilty to a certain degree, but Michael Jackson is at fault too, no he didn't deserve to die, but he was abusing drugs by his own choice, and he requested Propofol to be administered to him, so he was taking a chance with his own life.

Who knows Murray´s history, he knows that this person should never look after MJ´s health. Murray spoilt everything he touched in his past. Who is responsible for choosing such a person for Michael?

All doctors take an oath to do what BEST for the patient. Dr. Murray should have maintained that oath whether he was in a hospital setting or not. Regardless of what amount he was being paid; if he knew this was wrong to do, he could have simply said no. Greed sometime takes the place of common sense. Now look at the outcome.

Um hello? Yes he is a negligent doctor...to be sure...but is Michael faultless in all of this???
HE was the drug addict.
HE was the one taking all kinds of other prescription drugs.

Fine he was the "King of Pop"...but he was also a big boy that made some stupid decisions and that's not the doctor's fault.

The bottom line is that YES the Drug Pushers have some responsibility to claim in all of this...But the Drug Addicts are not as innocent as you all are making them out to be.

Michael was desperated for that drug and finally he found someone to give it to him, no matter how, probably Michael figured out the risks about lack of equipment of Murray but definitely Michael trusted this guy like his doctor, when I trust my doctor I do it till the end, I'm in his hands, and Murray did help to Michael many times before this accident.

There are too much mistakes to blame only to Murray, first, if Michael was sick he should have posponed the concerts and be cured, second, fix your insomnia with anesthesia is crazy, third, he was taking a lot of other pharmacs, etc, etc...Murray was only the final link. Many great hospitals have bigger mistakes like infections in ICU but everyone consider it normal. Murray is innocent.

« | 1 2 3 4 5 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: