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Release of Michael Jackson autopsy results postponed indefinitely

Court records indicate investigators are looking for evidence of communications between the performer's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, and other health practitioners.

July 31, 2009|Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton

The Los Angeles County coroner's office indefinitely delayed the release of Michael Jackson's autopsy results Thursday amid signs that police investigators were trying to determine the interplay between the pop star's personal physician and other medical professionals who treated Jackson in the months leading up to his death.

Word of the delay followed a meeting between officials from the L.A. County district attorney's office, the Los Angeles Police Department and the coroner's office to discuss progress in the case. Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the coroner's office said he could not say when the cause of death would be announced.

"I have no idea," Winter said.

A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said that the coroner's staff asked for the delay but that there were no disagreements in the multi-agency probe over the interpretation of evidence, including toxicology tests, or the direction of the inquiry.

Law enforcement officials initially said the toxicology results, which are expected to make clear what killed Jackson, would be made public this week, but then said next week was more likely.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, September 02, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 4 inches; 143 words Type of Material: Correction
Michael Jackson: A July 31, 2009, article about Michael Jackson's autopsy and warrants for the search of Dr. Conrad Murray's Las Vegas properties reported that the warrants authorized law enforcement officers to seize records of communications between Jackson, Murray and several doctors, including Beverly Hills anesthesiologist Randy Rosen. The article said that Jackson had been a patient of Rosen. According to search warrant records recently unsealed in Texas, Jackson's relatives stated that Jackson told them that Rosen had been treating him. Rosen's attorney says Rosen never treated Jackson and that neither Rosen's personal nor business records have ever been requested or subpoenaed in connection with the Jackson investigation. According to the attorney, Rosen used to own a surgical center where Jackson was treated not by Rosen, but by another physician. Rosen has provided authorities with records relating to those procedures, the attorney says.

The latest delay came as court records indicated that investigators were looking for evidence of communications between Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, and other health practitioners.

Warrants for searches conducted this week on Murray's Las Vegas properties authorized federal drug agents and LAPD detectives to seize e-mails, letters and notes between the cardiologist, Jackson and Beverly Hills dermatologist Arnold Klein, West Hollywood rheumatologist Allan Metzger, Los Angeles nurse practitioner Cherilyn Lee, Las Vegas dentist Mark Tadrissi, Beverly Hills anesthesiologist Randy Rosen and New York City ear-nose-and-throat specialist David Slavit.

Slavit was chosen by an insurance company this spring to give Jackson a physical so promoter AEG Live could get coverage for the singer's comeback concerts. Jackson's relationship to Tadrissi is not known.

Jackson was a past patient of Rosen. Klein, Metzger and Lee were treating Jackson at the time of his death. Lee has said Jackson's asked her in April for propofol, the operating-room anesthetic that law enforcement sources said was found in the singer's home. In an interview Thursday, an attorney for Metzger said Jackson also approached the physician in April about getting propofol to help him sleep.

"Dr. Metzger told him it was dangerous, potentially life-threatening and should not be taken outside the hospital," lawyer Harland Braun said. Metzger instead prescribed Jackson small amounts of two sleep aids, Braun said.

He said Metzger, who has turned over his files to the coroner's office, never consulted with Murray and "stands ready to talk to authorities."

"He could possibly be a witness that Jackson was looking for the drug or looking for someone to administer the drug," Braun said.

The investigators who combed through Murray's properties Wednesday were also searching for information about propofol. The search warrant filed in Las Vegas authorized them to seize shipping, purchase and delivery records for the drug.

It was unclear from inventories of the searches if authorities recovered any material in Murray's medical office or home related to the other medical professionals or to propofol. His lawyer said the cardiologist had not consulted with any of the other healthcare providers.

"Dr. Murray doesn't have any professional or personal association with any of the doctors listed in that search warrant," said attorney Edward Chernoff.

The warrants suggested investigators were operating under the theory that Jackson, who had struggled with substance abuse during his career, was a prescription drug addict at the time of his death. Possible charges in the case, a detective wrote, include excessive prescribing and prescribing to an addict. Also listed were manslaughter and unprofessional conduct.

Murray was performing CPR on Jackson when paramedics arrived at the performer's home June 25. Murray has said through his lawyer that he didn't administer anything to Jackson that "should have" caused his death.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

Times staff writer Kimi Yoshino contributed to this report.

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