The attorney for Michael Jackson's personal doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray, confirmed Wednesday (July 22) that when officials executed a search warrant on his client's office in Houston, it was in connection with an investigation seeking evidence of manslaughter in the singer's death.
"We can confirm that a search warrant was executed today on Dr. Murray's offices in Houston, Texas," reads the statement from attorney Ed Chernoff about the search, which The Associated Press said was conducted based on preliminary autopsy results. "We reviewed the warrant and remained on the premises while the search was being executed. The search was conducted by members of the DEA, two Robbery/Homicide detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department and Houston Police officers. The search warrant authorized law enforcement to search for and seize items, including documents, they believed constituted evidence of the offense of manslaughter."
Law-enforcement officials have described the probe into Jackson's death as a criminal case, and the wording of Chernoff's statement is a clear indication that investigators could be considering filing serious criminal charges against anyone tied to the June 25 death of the self-proclaimed King of Pop.
Among the items seized during the search of Murray's offices were images from a computer hard drive and 21 documents, none of which Chernoff said had previously been requested by police or the Los Angeles coroner's office. A spokesperson for Chernoff stressed that the action was "officially a search warrant and not a raid," as it had been widely described earlier in the day.
The various law-enforcement officials arrived in a 15-car caravan at Murray's Armstrong Medical Clinic midmorning and stayed for a little over two hours. Though not named as a suspect in Jackson's death, Murray has been a central figure in the investigation. He was hired by the 50-year-old singer to be his personal doctor in the months leading up to the planned July 13 kickoff of his 50-date This Is It residency at the O2 arena in London. Murray was present the day Jackson died, administering CPR to the singer after Jackson suffered cardiac arrest.
On Tuesday, Chernoff said in a statement that investigators from the Los Angeles coroner's office had asked for additional medical records from Murray and that, "based on Dr. Murray's minute-by-minute and item-by-item description of Michael Jackson's last days, he should not be the target of criminal charges."
Sources told People magazine that the focus of the search was the drug Propofol, the powerful anesthesia that Jackson might have taken before his death. TMZ reported that the agents were looking for "all medical records relating to Michael Jackson."
Late last month, Murray met with LAPD detectives for three hours to answer questions about Jackson's death. Detectives also impounded Murray's car, which was parked at Jackson's home, because it could contain evidence related to the singer's death. They also served search warrants to three different physicians. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that the warrant was served on Murray on Wednesday but said because it was a sealed document no information about what officials were looking for, or what they took into evidence, would be released to the public.
In early July, Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse and nutritional counselor, told the AP that Jackson had begged her for Diprivan — also known as Propofol — but that she denied his requests because it could be harmful to his health. Late on Wednesday, TMZ reported that an official from the Los Angeles County Coroner's office had visited Lee's offices and left with Jackson's medical records; a spokesperson for the coroner's office could not be reached for comment at press time.
TMZ has also reported that Propofol was found at Jackson's house. The drug is extremely potent — it is given intravenously as a general anesthetic used to sedate patients for surgery — and is only available to medical personnel.
Last week, a spokesperson for the coroner's office told MTV News that the results of toxicology tests on Jackson were in hand but that officials were waiting for all the reports on the results to come in before announcing the details to the public; those reports are expected within the next 10 days.