Published November 29, 2011
A Los Angeles judge sentenced Dr. Conrad Murray to four years in jail Tuesday for the involuntary manslaughter death of Michael Jackson.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said Tuesday that Jackson died because of Murray's criminal negligence, and denied the defense's request for probation.
Murray, 58, is to serve out the four years in Los Angeles County jail, according to Pastor's ruling. He could serve less than the four year sentence because of overcrowding in California jails.
Pastor said Murray "is and remains dangerous" due to his lack of remorse for the death of Jackson from a fatal dose of propofol on June 25, 2009. He called Murray's behavior "experimental medicine," and slammed Murray's participation in what he termed "money for medicine madness."
"Dr. Murray created a set of circumstances and became involved in a cycle of horrible medicine," the judge said. "The practice of propofol for medicine madness, which violated his sworn obligation, for money, fame prestige and whwatever else may have occurred."
Pastor said one of the most disturbing aspects of Murray's case was a slurred recording of Jackson recovered from the doctor's cell phone.
"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy," Pastor said. "It was designed to record his patient surreptitiously at that patient's most vulnerable point."
Murray listened to the verdict stone faced, and showed no reaction to the judge's decision.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a six-week trial that presented the most detailed account yet of Jackson's final hours but left many questions about Murray's treatment of the superstar with an operating-room anesthetic as he battled chronic insomnia.
Jackson's family told a judge Tuesday that they were not seeking revenge but want the doctor who killed the superstar to receive a stiff sentence that serves as a warning to opportunistic doctors.
"The Bible reminds us that men cannot do justice, they can only seek justice," the family said in a statement read by attorney Brian Panish. "That is all we can ask as a family, and that is all we ask for here."
The statement went on to say, "We are not here to seek revenge. There is nothing you can do today that will bring Michael back."
Panish did not specifically request the maximum term of four years in jail for Murray but said the cardiologist should be punished in a way that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder.
Several members of Jackson's family, including mother Katherine and siblings LaToya, Jermaine, Randy and Rebbie, attended the sentencing.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren also asked Pastor to consider statements Jackson's mother, Katherine, made to probation officials who prepared a report for the sentencing.
He said Katherine Jackson said she thinks about her son every morning and that his children also think about their father daily.
"`Their world collapsed when he left,"' Walgren quoted Katherine Jackson as telling probation officials.
Lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff highlighted the accomplishments of Murray.
"I do wonder though to what extent the court considers the entirety of a man's book of life, as opposed to one chapter," he told the judge.
The doctor decided not to directly address the court.
Chernoff again attacked Michael Jackson, as he and his team frequently did during the doctor's trial.
"Michael Jackson was a drug seeker," Chernoff said.
Jackson's death in June 2009 stunned the world, as did the ensuing investigation that led to Murray being charged in February 2010.
Murray told detectives he had been giving the singer nightly doses of propofol to help him sleep as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts. Propofol is supposed to be used in hospital settings and has never been approved for sleep treatments, yet Murray acknowledged giving it to Jackson then leaving the room on the day the singer died.
Murray declined to testify during his trial but did opt to participate in a documentary in which he said he didn't consider himself guilty of any crime and blamed Jackson for entrapping him into administering the propofol doses. His attorneys contended throughout the case that Jackson must have given himself the fatal dose when Murray left the singer's bedside.
In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited Murray's statements to advocate that he receive the maximum term. They also want him to pay restitution to the singer's three children -- Prince, Paris and Blanket.
It's unlikely that Murray can pay any sizable sum, including the $1.8 million cost of his funeral. He was deeply in debt when he agreed to serve as Jackson's personal physician for $150,000 a month, and the singer died before Murray received any money.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.