Published May 14, 2013
LOS ANGELES – The involuntary manslaughter conviction of Michael Jackson's doctor should not be overturned because there were no serious errors made by the judge overseeing his criminal case, a state attorney wrote in a filing urging a court to reject his appeal.
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Victoria B. Wilson wrote in a response Monday to Conrad Murray's appeal that the former cardiologist's own lawyers forfeited several opportunities to object to a judge's rulings in the case.
Wilson's filing also states jurors were presented overwhelming evidence that Murray's actions caused Jackson's death and his conviction should be upheld.
Rulings cited by Murray's attorneys as legal errors by Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor were not mistakes, but rather kept the jury focused on whether the physician was responsible for Jackson's June 2009 death, Wilson wrote.
Murray remains jailed after being sentenced to four years behind bars for providing Jackson with the anesthetic propofol, which the singer overdosed on in his bedroom.
"The record shows that (Murray) was playing Russian roulette with Mr. Jackson's life over the course of several months," Wilson wrote.
His attorney Valerie Wass appealed the conviction in April, arguing that Pastor erred by not allowing jurors to hear evidence about Jackson's troubled finances, his contract with concert giant AEG Live LLC, and by not sequestering the jury and allowing television coverage.
Wilson wrote that none of those rulings were errors, or would warrant overturning Murray's conviction.
"The argument is nothing more than the reflection of a criminal defendant who harbors no sense of responsibility or remorse for taking the life of a human being," Wilson wrote.
"Of course I disagree," Wass said Monday night. "I believe there were serious errors made."
She said Wilson's filing didn't address her argument that the prosecution theory about how Jackson overdosed was incorrect and how additional forensic testing could demonstrate that.
Wilson's filing however noted that Murray's three-person legal team had access to evidence in the case for months before the trial, and in some cases conceded they hadn't thought to raise certain issues.
Wass said she would raise what she said were omissions in Wilson's response in a subsequent filing.
Jackson's finances and his relationship with AEG and Murray are the subject of a civil lawsuit being heard at a courthouse down the street from where Murray was convicted. The case brought by Jackson's mother against AEG claims the concert giant failed to properly investigate Murray before allowing him to serve as a tour doctor, and ignored signs of Jackson's poor health.
AEG denies wrongdoing, and a deputy medical examiner who conducted Jackson's autopsy told jurors Monday that the pop singer appeared to be in excellent health when he died.
Allowing the criminal jury to hear evidence of Jackson's massive debts and pending lawsuits would have been a distraction, and a mistake, Wilson wrote.
Pastor was right to be concerned that presenting evidence of Jackson's financial troubles "would result in a salacious sideshow of Mr. Jackson's finances and lawsuits and run the risk of distracting the jury from its task of deciding (Murray's) guilt," she wrote.