Conrad Murray gets 4-year prison sentence for Michael Jackson death
Conrad Murray has been sentenced to four years in prison, the maximum punishment, after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson.
However, according to new regulations to combat a problem of California inmate overcrowding, Murray will serve a reduced sentence at a county jail rather than in state prison because involuntary manslaughter is not considered a violent offense. Also, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department said in a statement the doctor will serve "just under two years."
Judge Michael Pastor handed down his sentence at a Los Angeles court on Tuesday, November 29, saying: "Dr. Murray repeatedly lied, engaged in deceitful misconduct ... He has absolutely no sense of remorse, absolutely no sense of fault and is and remains dangerous. I believe he's a danger to the community."
The 58-year-old Grenada-born cardiologist has been behind bars since he was convicted on November 7 (see video here. His mug shot is pictured above). The judge said he would receive a 23-day credit for time served.
One of the doctor's lawyers, Michael Flanagan, said on the day of the conviction there will "certainly" be an appeal. He told reporters on Tuesday he was not surprised about the punishment.
Murray was denied probation and was remanded to jail after his sentencing. He blew kisses to someone in the audience when he was taken inside (see video). The doctor's mother and girlfriend had sometimes appeared in court during his trial.
The judge also ordered Murray to pay an $800 in restitution costs to Jackson's children and other family members, as well as smaller legal fees. Prosecutors had pushed for more than $100 million. A hearing about the matter was set for Jan. 23, 2012.
During his sentencing, Pastor slammed Murray for a recording he had made of Jackson on his iPhone. The audio was played during the six-week trial. The singer slurs his speech and appears to be medicated as he talks about his upcoming "This Is It" London concert series and hopes for opening a children's hospital (listen to the recording here).
"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy," the judge said. "I can't even imagine that happening to any of us because of the horrific violation of trust."
"I can't help but wonder that if there had been some conflict between Michael Jackson and Dr. Murray at a later point in time in that relationship - what value would be placed on that tape recording if the choice were to release that tape recording to a media organization to be used against Michael Jackson," Pastor added.
Flanagan, Murray's lawyer, said the circumstances in which the recording was made were unclear and said he thought the judge was "openly hostile" during the sentencing.
The judge also cited Murray's comments made in the documentary "Michael Jackson and the Doctor," which aired on MSNBC earlier this month. The doctor had said in the program: "I don't feel guilty because I did not do anything wrong."
"Yipes!" the judge said. "Talk about blaming the victim! You can't have probation when there isn't an acknowledgement of rehabilitation and responsibility and regrettably, Dr. Murray doesn't have any of them."
Before the sentencing, Jackson's family attorney, Brian Panish, appeared in court and read a statement from the singer's relatives, who chose not to speak in person.
"We are not here to seek revenge," he quoted them as saying. "There is nothing you can do today that will bring Michael back. We respectfully request that you impose a sentence that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bigger and cast aside their Hippocratic Oath to do no harm." (Watch a video of the attorney's reading the statement)
Murray was Jackson's private doctor in the years prior to his death and treated him for insomnia in the moments before he suffered a cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home. Jackson was preparing for his "This Is It" concert series at the time and promoters were supposed to pay Murray $150,000 per month for his services. The deal was never finalized, as Jackson never signed the papers.
Autopsy results show that Jackson died at age 50 on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of propofol, a powerful anesthetic that the singer referred to as his "milk," and other sedatives. Murray had administered the drugs to Jackson in the hours before his death. The King of Pop was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Murray's attorneys had urged the judge last week, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, to spare Murray from more jail time, adding that he has received death threats while in prison.
One of his lawyers had earlier this month told OnTheRedCarpet.com that the doctor was not placed on suicide watch, although a newly-released probation report about Murray states that according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the physician was classified as 'mentally disturbed' and 'suicidal' while awaiting sentencing.
The prosecution team had pushed for a maximum sentence for Murray, adding that the doctor should also pay restitution costs to Jackson's three children as well as any other fees and accumulated interest.
The District Attorney's Office said that according to family records, Jackson was set to earn $100 million for his sold-out "This Is It" concert series. It also said the singer's funeral, memorial services and other associated expenditures cost more than $1.8 million.
The jurors' verdict was unanimous. The jury was made up of seven men and five women (check out more details about them). One of them, Debbie Franklin, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she and the other jurors believe Jackson would "absolutely" be alive today if not for Murray.