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Anesthetic propofol killed Jacko: report

'Lethal levels' of the powerful anesthetic propofol killed Michael Jackson, according to court documents unsealed and quoted by US media which put the pop star's personal physician under mounting police scrutiny. Homage to the king of pop.

world Updated: Aug 25, 2009 15:30 IST

"Lethal levels" of the powerful anesthetic propofol killed Michael Jackson, according to court documents unsealed on Monday and quoted by US media which put the pop star's personal physician under mounting police scrutiny.

The search warrant affidavit unsealed in Houston and tied to the investigation into the June 25 death of the pop star cites the Los Angeles County coroner's office as concluding after an autopsy that a fatal combination of drugs including propofol was administered to Jackson hours before he died.

"The Los Angeles Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner, Dr. Sathyavagiswaran, indicated that he had reviewed the preliminary toxicology results and his preliminary assessment of Jackson's cause of death was due to lethal levels of propofol," according to a facsimile of a Los Angeles search warrant and affidavit posted on investigative website and cited by US news networks.
Pop star Michael Jackson waves to supporters as he leaves the Santa Barbara County Courthouse after he was found not guilty in Santa Maria, California in this June 13, 2005 file photo. Jackson died from a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol given in a cocktail of drugs, leading authorities to suspect his doctor of manslaughter, court documents showed on August 24, 2009.

Courtesy: Reuters

The documents shed light on one of the last remaining questions about Jackson's sudden death at age 50, but they also increase the possibility that the death is ruled a homicide and that criminal charges are brought against the singer's
personal physician Conrad Murray, the cardiologist who was with Jackson on the morning he died.

Last month Murray's lawyer Ed Chernoff confirmed that a search warrant served by investigators had been seeking evidence of manslaughter.

The Jackson family swiftly issued a brief statement Monday, saying it has "full confidence in the legal process, and commends the ongoing efforts of the LA County Coroner, the LA District Attorney and the LA Police Department."

"The family looks forward to the day that justice can be served."

The affidavit reveals that Murray had confessed to Los Angeles police interrogators that he had been injecting Jackson with propofol nightly for the six weeks prior to his death to treat his insomnia.

Murray told investigators two days after Jackson's death that he had been administering 50 milligrams of propofol -- also known by the trade name Diprovan -- every night to Jackson, and that he was worried the singer may have been developing an addiction to propofol "and tried to wean Jackson off of the drug."

According to the affidavit, he said that on June 22 he halved Jackson's propofol dose to 25 milligrams and also gave two other sedatives, lorazepam and midazolam.

The following night he administered the latter two drugs but withheld propofol, and the star was able to sleep, but throughout the next night Jackson was unable to sleep despite doses of lorazepam, midazolam and valium, according to the document.

"Jackson remained awake and at approximately 1040 hours, Murray finally administered 25 milligrams of propofol, diluted with lidocaine via IV drip to keep Jackson sedated, after repeated demands/requests from Jackson," according to the affidavit.

It stated that Murray was monitoring Jackson closely, but then stepped away from his bedside to use the bathroom and when he returned two minutes later Jackson had stopped breathing.

His attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and Jackson was declared dead at about 2:00 pm local time.

As part of their investigation police and federal agents raided Murray's offices in Las Vegas, Nevada and Houston, Texas as well as a Las Vegas pharmacy that provided the medicine.

Officials contacted by AFP at the Los Angeles Coroner's office as well as the police were unable to immediately confirm the court documents or the news reports.