Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s personal physician, was found guilty Monday of involuntary manslaughter for administering a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol to the King of Pop in 2009.
A jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict after deliberating nearly 10 hours on Friday and Monday at the Los Angeles County Courthouse.
Dr. Murray, a cardiologist in Las Vegas and Houston, stared blankly ahead and showed no emotion as the court clerk read the verdict on the single charged count: “guilty.”
Almost immediately, cheers and applause erupted within the throng of fans who had stood vigil on the sidewalk outside the courthouse as the jury deliberated. A large banner read: “We Miss Michael.”
In contrast, the courtroom remained quiet and subdued.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor to immediately order that Murray be taken into custody and held without bond pending his sentencing.
“This is not a crime involving a mistake of judgment,” Judge Pastor said in weighing the request. “This is a crime where the end result was the death of a human being. That factor demonstrates fairly dramatically that the public should be protected.”
Defense attorney Edward Chernoff argued that Murray should remain free on bail pending his sentencing.
The judge noted that Murray had no prior criminal record and that he had appeared for all prior court dates while free on bail. But the judge added Murray had out-of-state connections.
“I don’t know if Dr. Murray would make those appearances in the future since he is now a convicted criminal,” Pastor said. “Dr. Murray’s reckless conduct in this case poses a risk to the public even though he is a medical doctor,” the judge added. “I conclude that remand is appropriate.”
As the judge spoke, a sheriff’s deputy began fastening handcuffs to Murray’s wrists while he sat at the defense table flanked by his lawyers.
Pastor set sentencing for Nov. 29. Then Murray was whisked through a side door to a holding cell.
Murray faces up to four years in prison and loss of his medical license.
Members of Jackson’s family appeared relieved as they emerged from the courthouse. “Justice was served,” Jackson’s brother Jermaine told an HLN correspondent.
Jackson’s sister LaToya commented that she felt her brother’s spirit in the courtroom. “He was in that courtroom. That is why victory was served,” she said.
At a press conference, Mr. Walgren, the deputy D.A., told reporters that his sympathies were with the Jackson family and the loss they had suffered. He said the Jacksons had lost “not a pop icon, but a son and a brother.”
In 22 trial days spanning five weeks, the jurors heard conflicting accounts from medical experts about what may have happened in the final hours of Jackson’s life.
Prosecutors presented a scenario in which Murray was distracted or inattentive to Jackson after administering a combination of sedatives and a free-flowing intravenous drip of propofol to try to help Jackson overcome chronic insomnia. They said Murray went to the bathroom, sent e-mails, and talked on the telephone with a girlfriend when he should have been closely monitoring his sedated patient.
At some point Jackson stopped breathing, and was never revived. Prosecutors said Murray violated the standard of care owed by a physician to his patient, and engaged in reckless practices that directly caused Jackson’s death.
Murray’s defense lawyers had countered that Jackson must have self-injected a final dose of propofol that killed him. They said Jackson was desperate for sleep and was facing mounting pressures with the fast approach of a grueling London concert schedule.
Drug combinations administered by Murray to help Jackson sleep were not working, they said, so Jackson may have taken matters into his own hands with fatal results.
Prosecutors countered the defense theory by presenting medical experts who testified that a physician should never leave the bedside of a sedated patient – even for a moment. They also suggested it was improper for Murray to leave Jackson alone in a room with drugs that might be self-administered.
Propofol is an anesthetic that is routinely administered for surgical procedures in hospitals and clinics. Medical experts said they had never heard of it being given in a private bedroom as a sleep aid, as Murray had done for Jackson.
According to trial testimony, Jackson was introduced to propofol as a treatment for insomnia by doctors overseas. He later asked several physicians in the US to obtain it for him and administer it to him to help him sleep. Many refused. Murray did not.
As Jackson continued rehearsals for his upcoming “This Is It” concerts in London, he persuaded the concert promoter to hire Murray to accompany him to London as Jackson’s personal doctor. Murray agreed to a 10-month contract and was to be paid $150,000 a month. The contract was never finalized.
Nonetheless, Murray took steps to close his cardiology practice in Las Vegas and Houston, and began treating Jackson’s insomnia in April with propofol.
Jackson referred to the anesthetic as “milk.” He told several doctors that he believed it was the only way he could get to sleep.
Investigators discovered that Murray ordered shipments of more than four gallons of the white milky drug from April to June 2009. At one point, Murray admitted in a recorded statement to police that he gave Jackson nightly infusions of the anesthetic for nearly two months to help Jackson sleep. But he also said he was trying to wean Jackson off reliance on the anesthetic and allow him to fall asleep more naturally.