The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) - For the second time in less than a week, authorities have targeted the property of Michael Jackson's personal doctor in their ongoing investigation into whether he committed manslaughter by administering a powerful anesthetic to help the pop singer sleep.
Federal agents on Tuesday searched Dr. Conrad Murray's home and office in Las Vegas. Last week, authorities searched his clinic and rented storage unit in Houston.
Court records show they were seeking evidence of whether the physician committed manslaughter. Such charges against a doctor for the death of a patient are extremely rare and require authorities to show there was a reckless action that created a risk of death.
Murray told investigators he administered propofol to Jackson the night he died as a sleep aid, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. Theofficial said Murray left the bedroom where Jackson was sedated and returned to find the star not breathing. It's unclear how long Murray was out of the room.
The official said investigators are working under the theory that propofol caused Jackson's heart to stop. Toxicology reports that should show what killed Jackson are expected as early as this week.
Authorities have characterized Murray as the target of the investigation but have stopped short of calling him a suspect.
Murray's attorney, Edward Chernoff, has said the doctor "didn't prescribe or administer anything that should have killed Michael Jackson."
On Tuesday, Los Angeles police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents carried away five or six plastic storage containers and several thick manila envelopes after a three hour-search of Murray's sprawling home in a gated Las Vegas community.
Across town, authorities searched his medical offices, Global Cardiovascular Associates Inc., for nine hours seeking documents. Investigators removed several boxes but declined to describe what they had seized.
Chernoff declined interview requests Tuesday but issued a statement saying the sealed search warrant "authorized investigators to look for medical records relating to Michael Jackson and all of his reported aliases."
Chernoff said Murray was present during the search of his home and assisted the officers, who seized cell phones and a computer hard drive.
Last week, federal drug agents and Los Angeles police searched Murray's Houston clinic and a storage locker he rented nearby. They collected an array of items, including 27 tablets of the weight loss drug phentermine, a tablet of the muscle relaxant clonazepam, business cards, notices from the Internal Revenue Service and computer hard drives.
Murray, 56, who is licensed in California, Nevada and Texas, became 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 Jackson in the entertainer's rented Los Angeles mansion and, according to Chernoff, "happened to find" Jackson unconscious in his bedroom the morning of June 25. Murray tried to revive him by compressing his chest with one hand while supporting Jackson's back with the other.
It took up to a half hour before paramedics were called, Murray's lawyers have said. The paramedics arrived about three minutes later and tried to revive the pop star for another 42 minutes before taking him to nearby UCLA Medical Center, where Jackson was pronounced dead.
Propofol typically is used to render patients unconscious for surgery. It can depress breathing and lower heart rates and blood pressure.
Home use of propofol is virtually unheard of, and if Murray left Jackson's side, he would have violated guidelines for the safe use of the drug drawn up by the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Jackson is believed to have been using propofol for about two years, and investigators are trying to determine how many other doctors administered it. Murray told investigators he had given Jackson the drug several times before, the law enforcement official told AP.
Associated Press writers Thomas Watkins and Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this story.