Michael Jackson's death was caused by "acute Propofol intoxication," the Los Angeles coroner declared today, officially ruling the star's death at age 50 a homicide. "Benzodiazepine effect" was named as a contributing factor.
The office's statement reads:
The drugs PROPOFOL and LORAZEPAM (Ativan) were found to be the primary drugs responsible for Mr. Jackson's death.
Other drugs detected were: Midazolam (Versed), Diazepam (Valium), Lidocaine (topical anesthetic) and Ephedrine (used to treat hypotension associated with anesthesia).
In response to the coroner's announcement, the Jackson family released a statement that reads, "The Jackson family again wishes to commend the actions of the Coroner, the LAPD and other law enforcement agencies, and looks forward to the day that justice can be served."
Earlier this week, a source told the AP the homicide ruling was imminent. The full contents of the coroner's report will remain sealed pending the LAPD's completion of their investigation into Jackson's June 25th death. Dr. Conrad Murray, the personal physician concert promoter AEG hired to care for the star during his This Is It run of 50 concerts at London's O2 Arena, remains the focus of the inquiry. As the Los Angeles Times reports, a homicide ruling means the victim died at the hands of another person and does not refer to pending criminal charges. However Dr. Murray has previously been identified as the subject of a manslaughter investigation.
According to search warrants unsealed earlier this week, Murray admitted he had been administering Propofol to Jackson to relieve the star's severe insomnia. In an attempt to wean the star from his usual 50 mg dose of the drug, Murray lowered the dosage to 25 mg and gave Jackson weaker sedatives. The day Jackson suffered cardiac arrest and died, Jackson demanded his "milk" as he referred to Propofol, and Murray reportedly administered the drug intravenously and left the room to make phone calls. When he returned, Murray told investigators, Jackson was unconscious. The doctor admitted to waiting at least 30 minutes before he alerted a bodyguard to call 911.
Though he spoke with investigators in the days after Jackson's death, Murray hasn't submitted to any press interviews or made any public appearances. On August 18th he broke his silence in a YouTube video to thank his friends and supporters for encouraging calls and e-mails.
The severity of Jackson's dependence on a variety of prescription medications has come to light as the investigation into his death progresses. As Rolling Stone reported, Jackson acquired medicine by using a variety of aliases, including "Omar Arnold." Jackson's long history with prescriptions — which is often traced to the injuries incurred when he caught fire while shooting a 1984 Pepsi commercial — could make a manslaughter case more difficult to prove.