Los Angeles police have identified [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist]'s personal physician as a suspect in their manslaughter probe into the singer's death. The Los Angeles Times reports that court records filed on Thursday in Houston name Dr. Conrad Murray as a suspect in the criminal investigation that resulted in two different search warrants served on Wednesday at the doctor's Houston clinic and a storage unit in the area.
The search warrants said 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." After interviewing Murray twice and not saying whether he was a suspect, the court records offered the first public confirmation by police that Murray is the focus of their investigation.
"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," Murray's attorney, Edward Chernoff, told the paper. Chernoff was present at both searches and he stressed that his client did not give Jackson any narcotics or other medication that "should have" caused his death.
Several members of Jackson's family have stated that they believe foul play was involved in the singer's death. On Thursday noted Los Angeles criminal attorney Harland Braun told MTV News that if police are to build a manslaughter case against Murray they would have to provide evidence that the doctor acted in a reckless or negligent manner in causing the 50-year-old pop icon's death.
"Any time you do any lawful act, like the administration of drugs, if you do it in a way that's reckless or indifferent to its consequences, you can be charged with manslaughter," Braun said, noting that a manslaughter charge does not require proof of intent to kill. Braun has successfully defended manslaughter cases in the past but has no ties to the Jackson case.
Among the items seized on Wednesday's searches were vials of the weight-loss drug Phentermine and muscle relaxant Clonazepam, billing records, medication orders, shipping receipts, billing receipts, medical records, a photocopy picture of Dr. Murray, Rolodex cards, a bio on Dr. Murray, public-storage receipts, two computer hard drives, a medical-board certificate, letters to a former employee, a computer, e-mails from one of Murray's former employees and unnamed "implements and instruments used in the commission of a crime."
The general manager of a self-storage business where Murray has rented a unit since April told the Times that authorities learned of her location at Murray's office and then sought the second search warrant for his storage unit there. A spokesperson for Murray could not be reached for comment at press time.
Also listed on the search warrant inventory were a suspension notice from a Houston hospital, letters from the Internal Revenue Service, a Texas Department of Public Safety controlled-substance registration and public records from the Texas controller. A spokesperson for Doctors Hospital in Houston confirmed that Murray, a cardiologist with practices in Houston and Las Vegas, has been suspended from practicing at the hospital for an offense that was "very much" routine and minor. Murray was in Las Vegas at the time of the searches.
The doctor was hired to be Jackson's personal physician at a rate of $150,000 a month. He was at the singer's home on June 25 when he found Jackson not breathing and administered CPR before paramedics arrived.
Murray is among three doctors who have been interviewed by officials in the case, in addition to Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse, who has said that Jackson begged her for the powerful anesthetic Propofol, vials of which were reportedly removed from Jackson's home following his death. Coroner's office officials visited Lee's offices on Wednesday, and she provided them with records for a nutritional program she created for Jackson, which she said did not include any prescription medications.
Chernoff has declined to say whether Murray administered Propofol, also known as Diprivan, to Jackson.