Courtesy of

Courtesy of

The next twist in the ongoing Michael Jackson death saga appears to be a criminal investigation: on July 22, the Los Angeles Police Department served a search warrant to the Houston clinic of Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson’s personal doctor, who was with the pop icon at the time of his death on June 25. Murray’s lawyer confirmed that police were searching the clinic for evidence of manslaughter. During the 3 1/2 hour search, police seized documents and a forensic image of a computer hard drive.

While the cause of Jackson’s death remains unknown–at least to the public–there has been speculation that prescription drugs were involved. The speculation has centered on the sedative propofol, also known as Diprivan. The drug was found in large quantities at Jackson’s home following his death. An agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which was also involved in Wednesday’s search, has apparently confirmed that the search warrant mentioned propofol. Propofol is not available without a prescription and is rarely used outside hospitals. The DEA is currently considering whether to add propofol to its list of controlled substances.

The search marks the clearest indication thus far that criminal charges are being seriously considered in Jackson’s death. This turn of events is both shocking and unsurprising. On the one hand, the possibility of murder charges in the death of a celebrity is rare (at least until recently) and naturally intriguing. On the other hand, the fact that such extreme measures are being considered is hardly surprising given the public shock and dismay at Jackson’s untimely demise. In fact, the situation is oddly similar to the aftermath of Heath Ledger’s death, when federal prosecutors considered pursuing criminal charges.

If Murray was indeed prescribing Jackson illicit drugs, and perhaps worse, he certainly deserves some form of sanction. The Medical Board of California has already started proceedings to strip Murray of his medical license and has initiated a malpractice investigation, which seems appropriate. However, time–and the perspective it can bring–will tell if the facts of this case truly warrant manslaughter charges.

Tori Langton

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