Pop Star’s Death Ruled A Homicide By LA County Coroner

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Two months after the death of pop star Michael Jackson at age 50, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office has ruled that it was a homicide. The ruling increases the possibility that charges will be filed against the doctor who was with Jackson at the time of his death, and who allegedly administered a series of sedatives and anesthetics that led to it.

Dr. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist who was hired just weeks before Jackson’s death as the superstar’s personal physician, is the subject of a manslaughter investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. Murray had been treating Jackson for insomnia with intravenous doses of a strong anesthetic called propofol. He claimed that, because of a fear that Jackson was becoming addicted to the drug, he was attempting to wean the singer to a lower dose by adding in the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam.

On the day of Jackson’s death, Murray told detectives, he had attempted to help Jackson sleep with a series of sedatives, instead of propofol. When nothing worked, and in response to Jackson’s “repeated demands/requests,” Murray eventually administered 25 milligrams of propofol. He then stayed with the sedated singer for ten minutes before going to the bathroom. When he returned just a few minutes after that, he found Jackson unresponsive and not breathing.

Forensic tests conducted by the coroner’s office confirmed that the anesthetic propofol, in combination with at least two other sedatives, were the cause of Jackson’s death. The toxicology report also revealed that there were other drugs found in Jackson’s body, but that they were most likely not a factor in the death.

A law enforcement official told the Associated Press of the pop star’s death having been ruled a homicide. The finding could result in criminal charges, but does not necessarily mean that a crime was committed; homicide simply means that the victim died at the hands of another and is not always an illegal act.

Murray has cooperated with authorities, speaking with detectives and giving a videotaped statement claiming that he “told the truth and I have faith the truth will prevail.” According to an affidavit released in Houston, however, the doctor did not tell doctors or paramedics about the propofol he had given to Jackson on the day of his death.

Propofol is usually given only in a hospital setting, for general anesthetic purposes. Since there was no valid medical reason for administering the drug to Jackson, the death can be ruled a medical homicide, rather than a medical malpractice death.

 

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