On the night of June 24, 2009, Michael Jackson finished rehearsing for a set of comeback performances and returned to his rented mansion in Holmby Hills, a posh neighborhood on Los Angeles’ Westside. The King of Pop’s personal doctor, Conrad Murray, arrived at the residence shortly after midnight. Around 14 hours later, Jackson was pronounced dead—with no evidence of foul play.
Two months later, the Los Angeles County coroner ruled Jackson’s death a homicide owing to the lethal amount of drugs found in his system—mainly propofol, a powerful anesthetic, and lorazepam (also lidocaine, diazepam, ephedrine, and midazolam). And despite his gaunt appearance, the music legend was found to be in healthy shape for a man his age (50).
Given Jackson’s high profile, the Los Angeles Police Department assigned three detectives from their Robbery Homicide Division to the case—Orlando Martinez, Scott Smith, and Dan Myers. And in the documentary Killing Michael Jackson, making its stateside premiere Sept. 7 on Bounce, the three cops discuss the case for the first time.
Perhaps the most eye-opening revelation in Killing Michael Jackson concerns the contents of the pop star’s disheveled bedroom at that Holmby Hills home—including numerous blown-up images of baby boys and a creepy boy-doll lying in his bed.
“There was a computer on the bed… there was a lifelike doll on the bed… and kind of, like, advertisements of pictures with babies,” recalls Det. Martinez in the film. “Everybody knew about the allegations that had been leveled against Mr. Jackson over the years. One of the things, when I saw the laptop on the bed… do I go into it? But you have to realize the type of case I was investigating.”
So the detectives remained laser-focused on the case at hand. “It’s like with any case: You don’t allow whatever the victim was into prior to his death [to color it]. Your investigation is focused on: How did he die, and who was responsible for it,” adds Det. Myers.
The “allegations” Det. Martinez references are the child sexual abuse allegations that had trailed Jackson for a number of years. Jackson settled with Jordan Chandler, who alleged the pop star sexually abused him at the age of 13, for $20 million; staffers at his Neverland Ranch claim to have seen Jackson “fondling” children and found a VHS tape at his home titled, in part, as “Michael Jackson’s Neverland Favorites An All Boy Anthology.” In the recent HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck accuse Jackson of a pattern of sexual abuse beginning when they were young children. (During his life, Jackson vehemently denied he abused children.)
In Killing Michael Jackson, we see Det. Martinez—the only one of the three detectives assigned to the Jackson case who’s still with the LAPD (Smith and Myers have since retired)—examining boxes of evidence from the Jackson homicide investigation. It was Det. Martinez who found the empty 100ml bottle of Propofol in Jackson’s bedroom.
When the LAPD questioned Murray about the Propofol, Murray claimed that Jackson told him, “I’d like to have some milk”—and that he’d been administering the dangerous drug to Jackson for months.
“He freely admits that for months he’s been using this to help Mr. Jackson sleep,” says Det. Martinez. “In my head. I was thinking, ‘What the heck?’ To drug someone to sleep in the way that he did, even with his permission—I didn’t think it was legal.”
“He had enough Propofol in him to drop a rhinoceros” offers Det. Smith.
A receipt from a pharmacy in the apartment of Murray’s girlfriend, Nicole Alvarez, led detectives to the Propofol—and that Murray had shipped over 5 gallons of Propofol to Alvarez’s home. The police also recovered a contract between Jackson, Murray, and AEG, the tour promoter for Jackson’s comeback performances in London, in Murray’s car, revealing that AEG was paying Murray $150,000 a month to treat Jackson.
Ultimately, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Jackson—yet served only two years of a four-year prison sentence. The detectives in Killing Michael Jackson express their frustration at the length of the sentence and the “involuntary manslaughter” charge brought by the DA—believing that a second-degree murder charge made more sense given the evidence.
“The level of [Murray’s] negligence was just so clear that we thought that it would apply,” says Det. Martinez. “We do not charge people. We investigate the case, and we present it. We were not happy with the choice but we deal with what we can, and we move forward.”
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