As the investigation into the death of [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] continues, the evidence that his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, may have supplied the singer with the powerful anesthetic propofol (also known as Diprivan) continues to mount.
On Thursday, TMZ reported that Murray kept a supply of the drug hidden in a closet in Jackson’s rented Los Angeles home. The site claimed that Murray may have also either “stored propofol elsewhere or had a steady stream of FedEx deliveries” of the drug to the home, since the amount found was reportedly only enough for one night. The site claimed that unnamed law enforcement sources said they found three large bottles of the drug and five smaller vials at Jackson’s home in a closet attached to Murray’s bedroom. According to reports, Jackson was found in Murray’s bedroom on the morning he died.
Jackson reportedly used the drug — which is meant to be used in a clinical setting to render patients unconscious before surgery — to combat chronic insomnia, and experts told TMZ that the bottles and vials found by police would have only been enough to keep Jackson asleep for eight hours.
According to the search warrant (now posted on TMZ) for the Las Vegas pharmacy raided on Tuesday , authorities were looking for credit card receipts and other documents related to drugs purchased by Murray on May 12, specifically mentioning a type of propofol that was found in Jackson’s home.
A law enforcement official confirmed to The Associated Press that officials removed evidence on Tuesday that proved Murray bought the propofol from Las Vegas’ Applied Pharmacy Services and that he administered the drugs from that purchase to Jackson in the hours before his death.
Murray has not been charged with any crime and his lawyer has said he did not administer anything to Jackson that “should have” caused his death. But Murray has reportedly told investigators that he gave Jackson propofol, along with several other sedatives, in the hours before Jackson died. Reports surfaced on Thursday that investigators believe the doctor left the room where Jackson was sleeping for a few minutes to make personal phone calls and returned to find that the singer was no longer breathing. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles Police Department and local jurisdictions have previously served search warrants on Murray’s Las Vegas home and medical offices and on his Houston medical offices and a storage locker.
The results of an autopsy on Jackson have been completed, but the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office said this week that it is keeping the information under a security hold until police complete their investigation.
Murray’s lawyer, Edward Chernoff, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that after agreeing to serve as Jackson’s personal physician for $150,000 a month in the lead-up to the singer’s attempted 50-show comeback residency at the O2 Arena in London, the doctor “realized that Michael Jackson had some very unusual problems.”
“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. The lawyer criticized what he called a string of leaks by investigators that he said were part of a rush to portray his client as guilty and propofol as the cause of Jackson’s death.
“From the beginning, they leaked that propofol killed him,” Chernoff said. “It has appeared the investigation was designed to support a conclusion they already made with regard to Dr. Murray.” At least five other doctors have been investigated by the LAPD and DEA in connection with the Jackson case, though Murray is the only one to be publicly identified as a suspect in the case, the Times said.
Chernoff added that it was clear to him from the searches of Murray’s properties in Las Vegas and Houston that investigators thought drugs other than propofol played a role in Jackson’s death and that officials were looking for evidence that Murray prescribed Jackson other medications. “I have no doubt they came up completely empty in that regard,” he said. Chernoff has refused to comment on whether Murray administered propofol to Jackson, but has strongly denied that the doctor supplied any painkillers to the pop star.
A spokesperson for Chernoff told CNN that Murray did not conduct drug tests on Jackson and had no way of knowing, other than what the singer told him, whether Jackson was taking other drugs.