Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Conrad Murray, was sentenced on Tuesday to four years in jail and denied probation for his conviction on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star’s death.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor gave Murray the maximum sentence and said Murray engaged in “money for medicine madness that is simply not acceptable to me.”
Murray, 58, dressed in a gray suit and purple paisley tie, sat emotionless throughout much of his sentencing in the trial that captured the world’s attention.
Just before he was led out of the courtroom, he blew kisses at a woman who shouted to the convicted killer: “We love you.”
Thriller singer Jackson, who rose to fame in the late 1960s and 1970s as a member of the Jackson Five and had a stellar solo career in the 1980s, died of a drug overdose in June 2009, principally from the use of the surgical anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid. That drug had been obtained and administered to Jackson by Murray at the singer’s rented home.
Earlier last month, a jury convicted Murray of involuntary manslaughter, or gross negligence, in his treatment of Jackson after witnesses testified propofol should not be administered at home and, if it is, must be given only with the proper life-monitoring equipment on hand. It was not.
Murray had agreed to care for Jackson ahead of the singer’s comeback concerts in London and had negotiated a salary of US$150,000 per month to care for the singer.
At the sentencing, which was attended by members of the Jackson family, including his mother Katherine and several siblings, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said that Murray should not be given any leniency in his sentencing.
“The defendant was playing Russian roulette with Michael Jackson’s life every single night,” Walgren said.
Defense attorney Ed Chernoff asked for leniency, saying the crime was Murray’s first and the doctor had a long history of quality treatment to patients.
He asked the judge to look at Murray’s “book of life” and not just the one chapter regarding his treatment of Jackson.
Chernoff said he believed Murray should be asked to work in the community because he would do no good in a jail cell.
“He can do things for the community on probation. Things that he could never do sitting in that room,” Chernoff said.
Judge Pastor disagreed and said Murray engaged in a “pattern of lies” that the judge characterized as a “disgrace to the medical profession.”
Murray was ordered to pay some court fees and another hearing was set for prosecution claims that he may owe more than US$100 million in restitution to Jackson’s family.