Jackson's death ruled as homicide

Michael Jackson's death was a homicide, the Los Angeles coroner formally ruled yesterday, saying the pop star died from acute intoxication from the drug propofol and other conditions.

The ruling confirms what has been the assumption of LA police for weeks, and increases the likelihood that Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, will face criminal charges.

In a short statement yesterday, the coroner said that propofol, a powerful anaesthetic, and the sedative lorazepam were the primary drugs responsible for Jackson's death. Other drugs detected in his system were midazolam, diazepam, lidocaine and ephedrine. Midazolam is a sedative used to make patients drowsy but not unconscious, diazepam is used to calm anxiety, while lidocaine is a painkiller and ephedrine is a stimulant.

During interviews with the LAPD, Dr Murray said he had been treating Jackson for insomnia for about six weeks, giving him 50 milligrams of propofol each night intravenously to relieve the stress of preparing for the star's comeback concerts in London.

Dr Murray said Jackson was "very familiar" with propofol and referred to it as his "milk" because of its appearance. Worried that the singer was developing an addiction, the doctor said he lowered the dosage in mid-June, and began mixing it with lorazepam, midazolam and other sedatives.

On 25 June, the day of the singer's cardiac arrest, he gave Jackson valium at 1.30am. When that did not work, he injected lorazepam at 2am, then midazolam at 3am. Over the next few hours, Dr Murray decided to throw "various" drugs at the problem of his patient's insomnia, before trying propofol at 10.40am. Three hours later, Jackson was dead.