On Friday, the Los Angeles County Coroner officially confirmed news that had been rumored for weeks: Michael Jackson's death has been ruled a homicide caused primarily by the powerful anesthetic propofol and the sedative lorazepam. The ruling makes it more likely that charges will be filed against Jackson's personal physician, Conrad Murray, who admitted to investigators that he administered the prescription medication in the hours before the pop singer died.
But what is homicide? The crime is defined as the killing of one person by another. There are, however, many types of homicide.
"Anytime there's a death of a human being as caused by anything other than natural forces or natural ailing, it's considered a homicide," Peter T. Haven, a Los Angeles-based legal expert who worked on O.J. Simpson's controversial book "If I Did It," told MTV News. "Suicide is a form of homicide. Murder is also a form of homicide. Negligently hitting someone with your car is also a form of homicide."
The exact statutes vary from state to state, but Haven said typical homicide categories include justifiable, excusable, negligent, vehicular, accidental, excusable and intentional. "Not every homicide is a crime," he emphasized.
Though he had not reviewed the coroner's statement, Haven said the L.A. coroner's ruling "likely subjects [Murray] to medical malpractice claims and they also may be looking at him for something more severe than that."
Charges against Murray have not been filed, but the Los Angeles Police Department has reportedly made the physician a focus of a criminal investigation. Following the coroner's report, the LAPD released a statement.
"The investigation into the death of [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] is ongoing and will result in the case being presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney for filing consideration," it read. "The LAPD will not comment on any further aspects of this investigation."