Authorities Taking Their Time in Michael Jackson Case

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – It’s been almost three months since Michael Jackson’s shocking death, and while Los Angeles police are close to wrapping up their investigation, the decision on whether to bring criminal charges is at least weeks and perhaps months away, legal experts say.

Last month the Los Angeles County coroner ruled Jackson’s June 25 death a homicide caused primarily by the powerful anesthetic propofol in combination with the sedative lorazepam. Both were administered in Jackson’s mansion by his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.

Murray is the target of what police term a manslaughter investigation but the probe is far broader, encompassing a half-dozen doctors who treated Jackson over the years. Police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents are trying to reconstruct Jackson’s extensive drug history, a task made more difficult because the pop star used pseudonyms to obtain medications.

Tracking down where Jackson got drugs, who provided them, how much his prior drug use contributed to his death and lining up experts to distill complex medical information into layman’s terms for a jury is time-consuming.

Propofol commonly is used to render patients unconscious for surgery. It’s only supposed to be administered by anesthesia professionals in medical settings and, because of its potency, requires the patient be closely monitored at all times. Using propofol strictly as a sleep agent violates medical guidelines.

The coroner’s finding of homicide, or death at the hands of another, does not automatically mean a crime was committed. To bring a manslaughter charge, prosecutors must show there was a reckless action that created a risk of death or great bodily injury. If a doctor is aware of the risk, there might also be an issue of whether the patient knows that risk and decided to take it.

As for Jackson’s demand for propofol, he said, “He didn’t understand that anesthesia is not sleep. If he wanted restorative sleep, he was going in the wrong direction.”
“If he didn’t research the drug that would be conscious disregard of the risk to human life, which is second-degree murder.” she said.

Editor’s note: It tooks over 2.5 years for authorities to bring charges against doctors in the Anna Nicole Smith drug case, and the counts were less serious than in the case of the King of Pop Michael Jackson.