Three weeks after being convicted by a jury of involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson, Dr. Conrad Murray has been sentenced to “the high term of four years imprisonment.”
Prosecutors had been urging Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor to sentence Murray to the maximum sentence of four years, which is what he received. However, due to a recent California law change enacted because of jail overcrowding, Dr. Murray will serve only about half of the sentence and he may serve it via “home confinement” because he has no criminal history and because involuntary manslaughter is enumerated as a “non-violent” crime in California.
Prior to the sentencing, the judge wanted to revisit the definition of “criminal negligence” and to explain that he looked at the totality of circumstances in the case.
Judge Pastor said:
“It’s important to emphasize the standard of criminal negligence, found by this jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Because some may feel this was a medical malpractice case. It wasn’t. It was and is a criminal homicide case. And this jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, with criminal negligence, caused the death of Michael Jackson … a person acts with criminal negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act …
The fact is that Michael Jackson died because of the actions of, and the failures to perform legal duties on the part of, Dr. Murray … he died because of a totality of circumstances which are directly attributable to Dr. Murray. Not some mistake or some accident in the early morning hours of June 25, 2009. But because of a series of decisions that Dr. Murray made, which jeopardized his patient, which violated his obligations to his patient and the essence of his Hippocratic oath. Those violations overcome the other aspects of Dr. Murray’s treatment of other patients and the good deeds he may have done before that time.”
The judge went on to talk about Dr. Murray “blaming the victim” and said,
“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. Dr. Murray certainly is statutorily eligible for probation. I looked valiantly for efforts to satisfy myself that while Dr. Murray was legally eligible for probation, he was suitable for probation. And I really didn’t become convinced I could find any … The court declines to grant probation in this case for a host of reasons.”
Murray never took the stand in his own defense, either at the trial or at his sentencing, but his attorneys maintained throughout the trial that Murray gave Jackson the Propofol to help him sleep and that Jackson must have administered the fatal dose himself, unaware that it would kill him, after Murray left the room the night Jackson died.
In addition to the maximum jail sentence, prosecutors also have sought restitution from Murray to Jackson’s three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, but it is unlikely they will see any money. Murray was already deep in debt when he began working for Jackson and never received any money from the singer before he died.