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Jackson’s drug use under investigation

Sat., June 27, 2009

LOS ANGELES – With initial autopsy results inconclusive, the investigation into Michael Jackson’s death focused Friday on whether the pop icon, who had struggled with painkiller addiction in the past, overdosed on prescription drugs.

“We know he was taking some prescription medication,” said Craig Harvey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, at a news conference announcing the completion of the autopsy. He said more tests, including a toxicology screen that would take four to six weeks, were required to determine the cause of Jackson’s sudden cardiac arrest.

As the lab work began, detectives with the Police Department’s robbery-homicide unit were seeking to question a physician who was in Jackson’s Los Angeles mansion Thursday when the entertainer stopped breathing. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist with offices in Las Vegas and Houston, was identified by a Jackson adviser as the singer’s personal doctor of three years and the man tapped to assure the 50-year-old performer’s health during the comeback concert series planned for next month in London.

Investigators said Friday night that Murray had agreed to be interviewed in the presence of his lawyer. Police officials stressed that the doctor was not the target of a criminal investigation. Coroner’s officials said the autopsy showed no evidence of foul play and police said there was nothing in the house indicating that Jackson had been injected with a drug.

Those close to Jackson’s comeback shows – make-or-break performances designed to return him to pop cultural relevancy and reduce his massive financial debt – said there were no signs of drug use during the six-hour rehearsals or at lengthy meetings to discuss new business opportunities.

“I was not aware of him taking anything,” said Tohme Tohme, a Jackson business adviser trained as an orthopedic surgeon. “As far as I know there weren’t any” painkillers.

Jackson admitted prescription drug addiction in the 1990s.

When paramedics arrived at Jackson’s house Thursday, Murray was performing CPR. In a call to 911 from inside the home, an unidentified man said Jackson was on a bed being tended to by his personal doctor.

Murray was at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center with Jackson’s advisers when the performer was pronounced dead.


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