Conrad Murray's lawyers urge for non-jail sentence after Michael Jackson death conviction
The lawyers of Conrad Murray, who is in jail for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, have urged a Los Angeles judge to avoid sentencing the doctor to more time in prison, where they say he has been receiving death threats.
The prosecution team, led by David Walgren, want Murray to receive the maximum sentence of four years in prison and pay the singer's three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, restitution costs that could total more than $100 million.
The 58-year-old Grenada-born cardiologist has been behind bars since he was convicted on November 7. Murray is due to be sentenced on November 29. (You can watch Conrad Murray's sentencing live here - at 8:30 a.m.) In addition to more prison time, he could also lose his medical license.
His attorneys filed a sentencing memorandum on Wednesday, November 23, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, urging the judge to give him "a sentence of probation with substantial community service as a means of repaying his debt to society."
"The court is urged to refrain from imposing further time in custody," it said. "Because he must be maintained in solitary confinement at all times out of concern for his safety due to the death threats received, the conditions of his confinement are not only very onerous to him personally, but are extremely costly and cumbersome to the jail."
"Were he a dangerous person, this would be viewed as a necessary expense, but he is not," it added. "The offense was not willful or intended. It was, in fact, the last thing in the world that Dr. Murray would ever want to happen to one of his patients. He is, by every account, immensely sorrowful and remorseful."
Head defense lawyer Ed Chernoff had made a similar argument at the time of Murray's conviction but the judge agreed with Walgren's stance that the doctor should be taken into custody and denied bail.
However, recently-issued California regulations state that if Murray is given a jail sentence, he would serve his time at a county facilty rather than in state prison because involuntary manslaughter is not considered a violent offense. Also, the duration of a jail sentence would be cut in half.
Walgren and his fellow prosecutors stated in their own memorandum, also submitted on Wednesday, that Murray should be sent to "state prison for four years, be ordered to pay appropriate restitution to Michael Jackson's children and be ordered to pay all requisite fines under the law."
The prosecution team says Jackson was set to earn $100 million for his sold-out "This Is It" London concert series that he had prepared for before his 2009 death.
It also says the singer's funeral, memorial services and other associated expenditures cost more than $1.8 million. Murray should also be ordered to pay attorney fees, collection costs and any interest, at a rate of 10 percent, that accured since Jackson died.
CONRAD MURRAY CAN STILL BE 'SOURCE OF HEALING IN THE WORLD'
In their request, Murray's lawyers also cited the doctor's troubled upbringing and said he could still practice medicine in some way.
"Conrad Murray is a self-made man of humble origins," the defense attorney's sentencing memorandum reads. "He grew up in a Third World environment where most basic services, including health care, were beyond reach for his family. He walked to school barefoot his first two years. He did not live with his mother until he was 7 years old, and did not meet his natural father until he was 25."
"Yet from a very early age, he knew that he wanted to be a doctor," it adds. "Conrad Murray still has the knowledge, capacity and motivation to be a source of healing in the world. Through he will perhaps not again be a doctor qualified to make diagnoses, he could educate and counsel patients about heart care and disease prevention."
Despite recent reports, Murray has not said he wants to commit suicide while in jail, one his lawyers told OnTheRedCarpet.com earlier this month. A source close to the doctor had said beforehand that Murray was never placed on suicide watch, but was "devastated" and "shocked he's actually in jail."
A Los Angeles jury had deliberated the fate of Murray, who had treated Jackson at his home on the day he died, for a total of about eight and a half hours after a six-week trial. In his closing argument, Walgren remarked sarcastically, "Poor Conrad Murray," in an apparent mockery of the way the doctor's lawyers tried to portray him to the jury.
After the unanimous guilty verdict was read, Murray appeared stone-faced and a single squeal was heard inside the courtroom (watch video).
Another one of the doctor's lawyers, Michael Flanaghan, told OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company, KABC Television after the verdict was read: "Well, certainly there'll be an appeal. I'm sympathetic for (the Jackson's family's) loss, a tremendous loss."
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 had suffered a cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles home and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The jurors are 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.
Check out a summary of the Conrad Murray trial proceedings as well as a video of the verdict being read in court on November 7 and the doctor's reaction.