Judge seals search warrant in Prince death investigation

Jason Sickles
Prince was found dead on April 21 in an elevator inside his Paisley Park home in Minnesota. (ABC News)
Prince was found dead on April 21 in an elevator inside his Paisley Park home in Minnesota. (ABC News)

A Minnesota judge on Thursday sealed the warrant police obtained to search Prince’s Paisley Park estate after the singer’s unexpected death.

Carver County First Judicial District Judge Eric Braaten wrote that making the search warrant public could compromise the investigation into how Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, collapsed in an elevator and died.

The move comes a day after several media outlets, citing unidentified sources, reported that prescription pills were found at Paisley Park but that it is unclear whether they were prescribed to Prince. The Drug Enforcement Administration has reportedly joined the investigation to help trace the source of the pills.

According to Minnesota law, search warrant documents — including an inventory of possible evidence taken by police — must be filed in court upon execution of the warrant or within 10 days.

But law enforcement authorities petitioned the court to keep the records from disclosure.

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“Due to Prince’s status of having been an iconic popular music superstar, there is and will be continued intense media scrutiny upon the manner and circumstances of Prince’s death,” Carver County Sherriff’s Department Chief Deputy Jason Kamerud wrote in an affidavit.

“That premature disclosure of the details provided in the search warrant and its accompanying documents may compromise this law enforcement investigation by causing the search or related searches to be unsuccessful, create a substantial risk of injury to an innocent person (s), or severely hamper this ongoing investigation,” Kamerud added.

A week ago, members of Prince’s staff couldn’t reach him at Paisley Park, a 65,000-square-foot complex that doubled as the reclusive singer’s recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minn.

Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minn., where Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, was found dead on April 21. (Photo: Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune via ZUMA Wire)
Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minn., where Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, was found dead on April 21. (Photo: Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune via ZUMA Wire)

In a frantic 911 call at 9:43 a.m. on April 21, an unidentified person asked for help after finding the music star unconscious on the floor of an elevator at his estate. Sherriff’s deputies arrived within minutes and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. Authorities said his death is under investigation, and that results of an autopsy and the investigation might not be released for several weeks.

Investigators, who have said Prince was alone when he died and that neither foul play nor suicide is suspected, spent several hours last week searching for possible evidence related to his death.

“In lieu of filing as a public document, the search warrant and all accompanying documents shall instead be kept securely under lock and seal,” Braaten wrote in his order.

Six days prior to his passing, Prince was unconscious when his bodyguard carried him down the steps of a private jet when the aircraft made an emergency landing in the middle of the night in western Illinois. Paramedics reportedly gave Prince a shot of the opioid antidote Narcan because the singer had overdosed on an opioid, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. TMZ, citing unidentified sources, has reported that an overdose of Percocet, a painkiller containing acetaminophen and the opioid oxycodone, caused his illness in the air.

Authorities have yet to say what role, if any, the medication may have played in Prince’s death.

Officers and firefighters responded to Paisley Park 46 times between Jan. 1, 2011, and the day Prince died, according to police call logs. The Carver County Sheriff’s Office released the documents in response to a public records request filed by Yahoo News and other media outlets. Only five of the emergency responses, including Prince’s death, rose to the level of an incident report being filed. None of the past calls to the address were apparently drug-related.

Prince’s remains were cremated last Saturday prior to the Minneapolis native being remembered in a private service at Paisley Park.

 Jason Sickles is a national reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).