The former cardiologist convicted of accidentally killing Michael Jackson was released from prison Monday, after serving about half of his four-year sentence.
Conrad Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter, for prescribing Michael Jackson the surgical anesthetic propofol, which officials say killed the "king of pop" in July 2009. California's recent efforts to alleviate inmate overcrowding led to Dr. Murray's release from a Los Angeles jail two years into his sentence.
As for Murray's next steps, his representatives have said he intends to return to medicine, although his medical licenses have been invalidated in all three states where he had been authorized to practice, Reuters reported. Murray's return to the medical field is contingent on an appeal he has filed to overturn his conviction, but a California appellate court is still weighing whether it will even hear the case.
“He's prepared to keep fighting this as long as it takes,” Valerie Wass, Murray's attorney, told Reuters ahead of her client's release.
Other news reports have said that Murray, once an anonymous if exceedingly well-paid doctor, plans to parlay his notoriety into singing stardom.
“Murray thinks he can make it as a singer in the future,” Jeff Adams, Michael Jackson’s former bodyguard, told the New York Daily News.
Murray is also courting publishers to write a book about his time with Jackson, unnamed sources told TMZ. That would put Murray in good company with other noncelebrities who have turned their incarcerations into a book deal. Among them are Amanda Knox, the American acquitted of murdering her roommate in Italy, who upon her release from an Italian prison accepted a $4 million advance for her book, “Waiting to be Heard,” released earlier this year.
Reports of bids for a pop career and million-dollar book deals are in keeping with Murray’s often-baffling forays into the limelight during the past two years. In June, Murray called into "Anderson Cooper 360" to sing on live television a personalized version of "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot.” He also sent Jackson’s daughter, Paris, a perplexing audio message in which he said he loved her as if she were his own daughter and sang to her Jackson’s song “You Are Not Alone.”
Jackson died four years ago amid preparations for high-profile comeback concerts in London, after years of bad press and mounting debt. Jackson’s doctor, whom concert promoter AEG Live had hired as the superstar’s personal general practitioner during the comeback series for $150,000 a month, almost immediately came under scrutiny, as investigators worked to tease out what his care for his patient had entailed.
In a six-week trial two years later, Murray was found to have prescribed propofol as a sleep aid to Jackson during the months leading up to his death. He was also found to have given the superstar a final dose of the medication hours before he died.
Medical experts testified at the trial that propofol is a surgical sedative, not a sleep aid, and said that Murray had not monitored Jackson in accordance with the protocols for administering the powerful drug. On the morning of Jackson’s death in his Los Angeles mansion, Murray had left the pop icon alone in bed with a propofol IV drip in his arm, prosecutors said.
Murray’s lawyers claimed that Murray had refused Jackson’s requests for propofol the night before his death and that Jackson had taken the sedative on his own.
“To hear Dr. Murray say it, Dr. Murray was a bystander,” Judge Michael Pastor said, before announcing the four-year sentence, the maximum allowed, at the trial. “Talk about blaming the victim. Not only is there not any remorse, there’s umbrage and outrage.”
AEG Live was cleared earlier this month in a civil suit, brought by Jackson's children and his mother, accusing the company of negligently hiring the doctor. The company successfully argued that it had been unaware of Jackson’s dependence on propofol and other sedatives when it signed on to manage Jackson’s concert series and hired a personal doctor for him.
The company “never would have agreed to finance this tour if it knew Michael Jackson was playing Russian roulette every night in his bedroom,” said Marvin Putnam, A.E.G. Live’s lawyer, in his closing statement.