Conrad Murray was stripped of his license Tuesday as a judge decided Michael Jackson’s personal doctor will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter of the superstar singer.
After a week-long preliminary hearing, prosecutors for the Los Angeles District Attorney rested their case against Murray ahead of schedule on Tuesday afternoon. Shortly thereafter, Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor rewarded their efforts of the past week by sending the case to trial.
Pastor set Jan. 25 as Murray’s arraignment date.
The King of Pop died June 25, 2009, from a drug overdose attributed to the powerful anesthetic propofol. Murray, who allegedly administered the drug to Jackson in his Holmby Hills mansion, faces a four-year maximum, if convicted of the charge.
"It was not Michael Jackson's time to go,” said Deputy District Attorney David Walgren in his closing statement Tuesday. “Michael Jackson is not here today because of the negligence and reckless acts of Dr. Murray."
After Pastor gave his decision, a representative from the state attorney general’s office requested – and got – an order from the judge suspending Murray’s medical license in California. Pastor also issued orders for his rulings to be made known within 48 hours to medical-board authorities in Nevada and Texas, two other states in which Murray practices medicine.
In one sense it was deja vu all over again, with a dead celebrity’s personal physician sent to the dock to answer charges that he overprescribed the wrong medications for his patient.
Only last week two defendants in the Anna Nicole Smith case, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Howard K. Stern, had the last of their 2010 convictions thrown out or, in Eroshevich’s case, reduced to one $100 misdemeanor. Deputy D.A.s Walgren and Deborah Brazil can only hope their side does better than their office did against the Smith-trial defendants.
There was another parallel Tuesday: A similar license-revoking request had been made prior to the trial of Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor in the Smith case, but in that case the motion was denied by a judge. In theory, the revocation of a doctor-defendant’s license protects the public from an allegedly rogue physician; in reality it cuts off that defendant’s main source of revenue at a time he needs it to pay attorneys and expert witnesses.
The scene outside the courtroom leading up to Judge Pastor’s ruling was somewhat surreal, with one Jackson impersonator wearing red “Thriller” jacket, sitting on the other side of the courtroom door, while a lawyer from a completely different case sat on a bench cradling a complete car bumper.
Neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers would comment to the media after the hearing ended. Murray walked out of the courtroom visibly shaken, and was flanked his attorneys, Ed Chernoff and Michael Flanagan.
A little while later, LaToya Jackson followed. She also declined comment. LaToya stepped into an awaiting black Range Rover on Temple Street and sped away as one fan shouted, “Justice for Michael!”
That day could come very soon.