Conrad Murray handed maximum 4-year sentence
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The judge had harsh words for Conrad Murray, as he handed down the maximum sentence for the involuntary manslaughter conviction in the death of Michael Jackson.
"Dr. Murray created a set of circumstances and became involved in a cycle of horrible medicine. The practice of propofol for medicine madness, which violated his sworn obligation for money," Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said at sentencing.
Pastor sentenced Murray to four years, and that term will be served in Los Angeles County Jail due to the state realignment, which aims to reduce the state prison population.
Because of the situation with jail overcrowding, the sentence is cut automatically to two years - and it could be less than that. During his stint, Murray will be housed in a one-man cell and kept away from other prisoners.
During the six-week trial, Pastor said the thing that stood out most was the slurred recording of Jackson. He also said he was shocked to hear Murray say "I don't feel guilty, I wasn't reckless" in a documentary made about the trial. The documentary aired in a cable TV reality program. Murray also said in the documentary that he felt betrayed by Jackson.
"Yikes, talk about blaming the victim," Pastor said.
Pastor denied the defense's request for probation because Murray did not acknowledge his mistakes or express any remorse.
"Why give probation to someone who is offended by the whole idea that that person is even before the court," Pastor said.
Murray has been at Los Angeles County Jail since his conviction. Pastor gave Murray credit for 23 days served and 23 for good behavior.
Before the sentence was handed down, Jackson's family members prepared a statement, read by the family attorney Brian Panish, that also asked for a stiff punishment.
"We are not here to seek revenge. There is nothing you can do here today to bring Michael back," the family statement said. "We respectfully request that you impose a sentence that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder and cast aside their Hippocratic oath to do no harm."
The statement ended with, "The Bible reminds us that men cannot do justice, they can only seek justice. That is all that we ask as a family. And that is all that we can ask for here."
Jackson's mother Katherine dabbed her eyes as Deputy District Attorney David Walgren referred to a letter she wrote.
Murray chose not to address the court before sentencing. A source told Eyewitness News that Murray was prepared to hear that he would get the maximum sentence due to the judge's comments and decisions throughout the trial.
Pastor imposed the maximum sentence, calling Murray a danger to the public. The defense responded with a joke, imagining Murray running amok with a needle.
"He could have gone out and injected a bunch of people with propofol. Do you really think he was a danger?" Defense attorney Michael Flanagan said.
Flanagan characterized the judge as "openly hostile" when he made remarks to the media.
"I think the judge had very little tolerance or sympathy for what occurred here," said ABC7 legal expert Dana Cole.
Murray was escorted out of the courtroom by deputies immediately after the sentencing, and as he exited, he blew a kiss toward his mother and girlfriend.
Katherine Jackson made a rare statement to the media as she walked out of the courthouse, saying, "Four years is not enough for someone's life. It won't bring him back, but at least he got the maximum. I thought the judge was very, very fair, and I thank him."
Jermaine Jackson said he wasn't satisfied with the verdict and suggested that Murray played only a small part in his brother's death.
"He's just a finger to a bigger hand," he said, and then pointed to a sign held by a Jackson supporter outside the courtroom that read "AEG needs to be investigated."
Fans outside said the maximum sentence sends a strong message about Murray.
"Michael Jackson was killed, he was murdered. I believe this man did it on purpose," said Carolyne Owens Horton, a Jackson fan. "I'm glad that he's going to jail. He's going to have to pay for what he did."
The prosecution recommended that Murray be ordered to pay restitution to Jackson's children and pay requisite fines, which totals nearly $102 million with Jackson's projected earnings from the 50-concert "This Is It" tour and associated funeral expenses.
Pastor did not impose restitution at sentencing and requested an itemization of submitted expenses. Restitution will be decided at a later hearing.
Sheriff Lee Baca said he will try to put Murray in a clerical job, but he will not be given a medical job. It was unclear if Murray's license was revoked or if it is in the process of being revoked.
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