Physician will serve in L.A. County Jail rather than state prison because of new guidelines — restitution hearing to be held within 120 days
UPDATE, 12:27 p.m.:
Michael Jackson's estate has issued a statement on Judge Michael Pastor's decision to sentence Dr. Conrad Murray to the maximum four years for causing Jackson's death. The estate called the sentence "appropriate" and "called" for, in light of Murray's lack of apparent remorse for Jackson's death.
Read the full statement below:
"Michael Jackson’s death was a huge loss to his children, his family, and his fans worldwide. A jury determined Michael’s untimely passing was caused by Conrad Murray. Dr. Murray in pre-trial statements and in a post-trial documentary expressed no remorse or responsibility for Mr. Jackson’s death. The Estate of Michael Jackson believes that the sentence imposed on Conrad Murray by Judge Pastor was appropriate and called for. The egregious conduct of Dr. Murray when 'treating' Michael Jackson was bad enough but when coupled with his outrageous lies in trying to cover up his wrongdoing after Michael was dying and/or had died only served to magnify his criminal actions. Michael Jackson was the one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived and he will be missed by millions.”
Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's personal physician at the time of his 2009 death, was sentenced to the maximum four years for involuntary manslaughter by Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor on Tuesday.
Murray was found guilty of causing the singer's death earlier this month.
Pastor ordered that Murray will serve the time in Los Angeles County Jail, due to a recent sentencing realignment dictating that involuntary manslaughter cases not be served in state prison.
In addition, a new state law will automatically reduce the four-year sentence to two years.
Pastor roundly rejected the defense team's request for probation on grounds that Jackson's death amounted to one incident in an otherwise crime-free life.
"Dr. Murray created a set of circumstances and became involved in a cycle of horrible medicine," Pastor admonished, adding, "one can't help but to be offended by the circumstances of this case."
Pastor took particular exception to Murray's participation in an MSNBC documentary that aired following his guilty verdict, during which Murray said he felt entrapped by Jackson. Calling the documentary a "faux reality production," Pastor said that Murray's lack of remorse dictated that probation is not an option.
"Yipes! Talk about blaming the victim," Pastor marveled. "Not only isn't there any remorse, there's umbrage and outrage on the part of Dr. Murray against the decedent."
The judge added, "Why give probation to someone who is offended by the whole idea that that person is even before the court?"
Pastor also expressed his dismay at a recording, played in court during the trial, of an apparently drugged Jackson that Murray made on his iPhone. Pastor went so far as to say that Murray made the recording as an "insurance policy" in case he and Jackson had a conflict at some point. Pastor insinuated that it might benefit Murray to leak the recording to the media should a public disagreement arise.
Despite that — and despite calling Murray "a disgrace to the medical profession" — Pastor called for a measured assessment of Murray.
"There are those who feel that Dr. Murray is a saint, there are those that feel that Dr. Murray is the devil," Pastor said. "He is neither; he's a human being."
Murray, who did not speak on his own behalf during the sentencing, was remanded to the Sheriff's custody following the sentencing.
Prior to the sentencing, Jackson family attorney Brian Parish read a statement from the singer's family.
"There's no way to adequately describe the loss of our beloved father, son, brother and friend," the statement read in part. "As Michael's parents we never could have imagined that we would witness his passing; it is simply against the natural order of things.
"We respectfully request that you impose a sentence that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder," the statement added.
In arguing for probation, Murray's defense attorney Ed Chernoff attempted to paint Murray as someone who had pulled himself up from humble beginnings in order to nobly serve as a doctor and family man, who had simply made poor choices in his treatment of Jackson. Chernoff asked the court to look at "the entirety of a man's book of life as opposed to just one chapter.
"In the two months that Dr. Murray was treating Michael Jackson, he did so regrettably. He shouldn't have done it."
Chernoff also painted Jackson as "a drug seeker, and he sought it out from Dr. Murray."
Chernoff went on to suggest that Murray could better serve society outside of a jail cell.
"Dr. Murray can do things for the community on probation that he cannot do sitting in that little room," Chernoff asserted.
Prosecutor David Walgren rejected the notion that Jackson's death was an isolated blemish on Murray's otherwise exemplary life.
"Not only was Michael Jackson extremely vulnerable at the time of his death … but that vulnerability was created by Conrad Murray," Walgren told the court. "The defendant was playing Russian roulette with Michael Jackson's life every single night."
The matter of restitution still remains to be resolved. During Tuesday's sentencing, prosecutors cited $100 million in lost revenue from Jackson's upcoming series of comeback concerts at London's O2 Arena, and $1.8 million in funeral and burial costs, though prosecution and defense alike agreed that it would be impossible for Murray to repay that amount. A restitution hearing will be held within 120 days, per Judge Pastor's order, which will give prosecutors an opportunity to compile a more comprehensive itemization of costs. In the meantime, Pastor ordered Murray to pay an $800 restitution fee, plus a $30 court security fee and a $40 criminal conviction assessment.
Pastor added that Murray has the right to appeal the sentence in a timely manner.
Following a six-week trial, a jury found that Murray contributed to Jackson's death by administering the anesthetic propofol to the singer nearly every night for the last two months of the singer's life. Jackson's autopsy revealed that the singer died of acute propofol intoxication, with sedatives also playing a factor.
During the trial, Murray's defense team maintained that the doctor had given Jackson the drug at the singer's request, as treatment for Jackson's insomnia. In an interview with police that was heard by the court during the trial, Murray claimed that he had attempted to wean Jackson off the drug in the days leading up to his death.
Murray's defense team also claimed that Jackson had administered the fatal dose of propofol to himself, though witnesses for the prosecution countered that it would be highly unlikely for a patient anesthetized to Jackson's extent would have the wherewithal to administer the drug to himself.
Overall, according to prosecutor David Walgren, Murray ordered just over four gallons of propofol during the period he was treating Jackson — "massive quantities," Walgren said.
The jury delivered its guilty verdict on Nov. 7, as Murray sat stonefaced but clearly rattled. Judge Michael Pastor remanded Murray into custody, refusing to grant him bail on the grounds that he is a danger to the public.
"This is a crime where the end result was the death of a human being," Pastor told the court, while explaining his reasons for remanding Murray into custody. "That factor demonstrates rather dramatically that the public should be protected."
Murray was hired to provide care to Jackson in early 2009, to care for the singer in the run-up to and during his upcoming string of comeback concerts in London's O2 Arena. During the trial, Murray was slammed by expert medical witnesses for the prosecution for administering propofol in an environment that lacked the proper safety precautions, and for not calling 911 as soon as was possible. Jurors also heard testimony from emergency responders and from medical staff at UCLA Medical Center, where Jackson died, stating that Murray didn't mention propofol when he was asked what drugs he had given Jackson.
← Previous Story