- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Federal agents searched the home and office of Michael Jackson’s personal physician Tuesday in a widening investigation of whether administering a powerful anesthetic as a sleep aid was so reckless that it constitutes manslaughter.

After a three-hour-search of Dr. Conrad Murray’s home near the 18th hole of a golf course in a gated community, Los Angeles police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents carried away five or six plastic storage containers and several thick manila envelopes.

Across town, authorities searched Dr. Murray’s medical offices, Global Cardiovascular Associates Inc., for nine hours seeking documents. Investigators removed several boxes, but Michael Flanagan, assistant special agent in charge of the Las Vegas DEA office, said the warrants were sealed and he could not discuss the documents.

Last week in Houston, authorities searched Dr. Murray’s clinic and storage. Court records show they were seeking evidence of whether the doctor committed manslaughter.

With toxicology reports pending, investigators are working under the theory that Dr. Murray gave Mr. Jackson the powerful anesthetic propofol to help him go to sleep and the drug caused his heart to stop, a law enforcement official said.

Dr. Murray told investigators he administered propofol sometime in the early morning of June 25, the day Mr. Jackson died, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The official said Dr. Murray left the bedroom where Mr. Jackson was sedated and returned to find the star unresponsive.

Police have said Dr. Murray, 51, is cooperating and have not labeled him a suspect.

When authorities arrived Tuesday, Mr. Flanagan said the doctor was at his Las Vegas home and kept out of sight of neighbors who milled about outside the house and the reporters the residents had invited into the private community.

Mr. Flanagan said staff members at Dr. Murray’s medical office were cooperative.

Dr. Murray’s lawyer in Houston, Edward Chernoff, has said the doctor “didn’t prescribe or administer anything that should have killed Michael Jackson.”

Late Monday, his office posted a statement online that said: “Things tend to shake out when all the facts are made known, and I’m sure that will happen here as well.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Chernoff’s spokeswoman said the lawyer had no immediate comment on the searches.

Mr. Jackson is thought to have been using propofol for about two years, and investigators are trying to determine how many other doctors administered it. Dr. Murray told investigators he had given Mr. Jackson the drug several times before, the official said.

Mr. Jackson relied on the drug like an alarm clock, the official said, explaining a doctor would administer it when the singer went to sleep, then stop the IV drip at the time the singer had indicated he wanted to wake up.

Using propofol to sleep exceeds the drug’s intended purpose. The drug can depress breathing and lower heart rates and blood pressure.

Home use of propofol is virtually unheard of. Propofol is supposed to be administered only in medical settings by trained personnel. Guidelines issued by the American Society of Anesthesiologists say “during the administration of propofol, patients should be monitored without interruption.”

Dr. Murray became Mr. Jackson’s personal physician in May and was to accompany him to London for a series of concerts starting in July. He was staying with Mr. Jackson in the Los Angeles mansion and, according to Mr. Chernoff, “happened to find” an unconscious Mr. Jackson in the pop star’s bedroom the morning of June 25.

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