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Michael Jackson death probe focuses on doctor, powerful anesthetic

July 28, 2009 |  7:28 am

Detectives investigating the death of Michael Jackson are trying to determine whether Dr. Conrad Murray administered a powerful anesthetic to the pop star before he was stricken, according to law enforcement sources.

One source told The Times that Murray was in Jackson's bedroom when the star received a dose of propofol the morning of his death. The Associated Press reported that Murray injected Jackson with the drug, but The Times could not confirm that account. 

Murray’s attorney declined to comment on the report, saying, “It’s a waste of time responding to all these timed ‘leaks’ from ‘anonymous’ sources. I feel like a horse swatting flies. Everyone needs to take a breath and wait for these long-delayed toxicology results. I have no doubt they want to make a case –- for goodness' sakes, it's Michael Jackson! -- but things tend to shake out when all the facts are made known, and I’m sure that will happen here as well,” said the lawyer, Edward Chernoff.

Last week, Murray was identified as a suspect in the Los Angeles Police Department's manslaughter investigation into the pop star's death, according to court records filed Thursday in Houston.

A pair of search warrants filed in Harris County District Court stated that investigators were looking for "items constituting evidence of the offense of manslaughter that tend to show that Dr. Conrad Murray committed the said criminal offense."

The searches, which were carried out last Wednesday at Murray's medical clinic and storage unit in Houston, gave authorities access to billing records, medication orders, shipping receipts, billing receipts, medical records and "implements and instruments used in the commission of a crime."

The court records were the first public confirmation by police that Murray was a focus of their probe. Detectives previously had interviewed Murray but had declined to identify him as a suspect.

"I do not know what they are looking for, and I can't possibly tell you how anything they took in any way connects with the death of Michael Jackson," said Chernoff, who was present at both of the searches.

Chernoff has said that his client did not give Jackson any narcotics or other medication that "should have" caused his death.
 
Murray, a cardiologist with practices in Las Vegas and Houston, had been hired to care for Jackson at a monthly salary of $150,000. Murray was at Jackson's home and found the singer not breathing June 25. He administered CPR before paramedics were called. The singer was officially pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center.

Sources familiar with the investigation have said that authorities removed propofol, a powerful anesthetic, and other medications from Jackson's home. Murray's attorney has declined to comment on whether the doctor administered the drug, which is most commonly used by anesthesiologists in hospitals.

Acting on behalf of the LAPD, a member of the Houston Police Department's narcotics division last week obtained the search warrant for Murray's Houston office on Monday from a Harris County District Court judge.

They searched the office for 3 1/2 hours Wednesday, confiscating a computer, a Rolodex card with FedEx information and e-mails from one of Murray's former employees.

The inventory of items taken in the search included vials of two drugs: 27 tablets of phentermine, a prescription appetite suppressant; and one tablet of clonazepam, a muscle relaxant. During that search, authorities also seized public storage receipts, a rental agreement and a move-in receipt.
 
-- Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton
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