Experts: Focus on criminal probe in Jackson case
LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s former attorney says the death investigation has become a full-fledged criminal probe with authorities looking toward the kind of court case they could build against the pop star’s physician.
Federal and local police this week served two search warrants in Houston, one at the clinic of Dr. Conrad Murray and the other at his nearby storage unit.
The warrants gave authorities permission to seize transport receipts and other items. Among them: a weight loss drug, storage receipts, notices from the Internal Revenue Service and computer hard drives.
Attorney Mark Geragos (GEHR’-ah-gohs), who once represented Jackson, said Friday this indicates investigators are following a trail which involves purchases of drugs by Murray and possible shipment of drugs to Jackson’s home.
Authorities still say Murray is not a suspect.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The personal physician who tried to revive a dying Michael Jackson has been named as the target of a manslaughter probe into the singer’s death.
A search warrant filed Thursday allowed authorities to seek “property or items constituting evidence of the offense of manslaughter that tend to show that Dr. Conrad Murray committed the said criminal offense.”
The warrant was filed a day after agents seized items from the physician’s Houston clinic and a rented storage unit.
Murray, 51, was with Jackson as he died and has been a key figure in the monthlong investigation since the beginning. The search of his clinic indicated authorities were focusing on him, but the warrant language made it clear he’s the target.
The court documents detailed items seized by federal drug agents and Los Angeles police. Among them were 27 tablets of the weight loss drug phentermine, a tablet of the muscle relaxant clonazepam, two computer hard drives, e-mails and a controlled substance registration.
Murray’s lawyer, Edward Chernoff, confirmed a search warrant had been executed and that none of the items seized had previously been requested by authorities, but did not comment further.
Murray was hired as Jackson’s personal physician just weeks before he died. He was in Jackson’s rented Los Angeles mansion when the pop star was found unconscious the morning of June 25 and tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
Murray, a cardiologist, is licensed to practice in California, Texas and Nevada. Records show he has had no disciplinary actions taken against him, though one item seized by investigators is a suspension notice from a Houston hospital. No details are provided.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office was not expected to make an official determination of what killed Jackson until at least next week, and investigators this week were reviewing medical records taken from the offices of other doctors in the probe.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said Thursday he had sought information from “seven or eight” doctors and Murray is the only one he has yet to talk to.
Winter said Chernoff had offered to speak with the coroner Friday but without Murray present.
“We don’t want to talk to the attorney, we want to talk to” Murray, Winter said.
Chernoff issued a brief statement in response, saying Winter had not made any requests to interview his client.
The powerful anesthetic propofol has emerged an important part of the investigation. Doses of it were found in Jackson’s mansion, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation who is not authorized to speak publicly. The drug was not among the items seized under the search warrant.
Associated Press reporter Justin Pritchard contributed to this story.
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