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Police search office of Jackson’s doctor

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Federal and local authorities raided the Houston office of Michael Jackson's doctor looking for evidence that could support homicide-related charges in the singer's death.

The target of the search was Dr. Conrad Murray, who was with Mr. Jackson when he died last month and who has been widely blamed in tabloid reports. Dr. Murray has cooperated with investigators and has not been named a suspect.

"The search warrant authorized law enforcement to search for and seize items, including documents, they believed constituted evidence of the offense of manslaughter," Edward Chernoff, attorney for Dr. Murray, said in a statement posted on the Web site of his firm, Stradley, Chernoff & Alford.

A law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case told The Washington Times that one focus of the search was finding information about Diprivan, a powerful anesthetic that was found in Mr. Jackson's home after his death.

The two-hour search of the Armstrong Medical Clinic in north Houston was conducted by members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, officers with the Houston Police Department and "two Robbery-Homicide detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department," Mr. Chernoff said.

Law-enforcement officials "left with a forensic image of a business computer hard drive and 21 documents. None of the documents taken had been requested by law enforcement or the L.A. Coroner's office," Mr. Chernoff said.

Mr. Chernoff said neither he nor his client would have any further comment or be interviewed.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne confirmed to The Times that agents were involved in a search in the Houston area pursuant to a state search warrant, but could provide no other details because the warrant is sealed.

The DEA is considering whether Diprivan, known generically as propofol, should be added to its list of controlled substances, which would put the drug under stricter government controls.

The cause of Mr. Jackson's death remains unknown. Two autopsies have been conducted -- one by Los Angeles officials and one arranged by the Jackson family -- but no results have been released from either.

Dr. Murray's lawyer said the attention from the case already has taken a toll on his client.

"Dr. Murray is frustrated by negative and often erroneous media reports, he has to walk around 24-7 with a bodyguard," Mr. Chernoff said in an earlier statement. "He can't operate his practice. He can't go to work because he is harassed no matter where he goes."

"Based on Dr. Murray's minute-by-minute and item-by-item description of Michael Jackson's last days, he should not be a target of criminal charges," the lawyer said.

Dr. Murray, who was with Mr. Jackson when the pop star collapsed from cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home, disappeared from public view shortly after the singer was taken to the hospital and only reappeared with a lawyer in tow. The Los Angeles Police Department also confiscated the doctor's vehicle shortly after Mr. Jackson's death.