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Murray faces jail for killing Jackson

Doctor sits motionless as legal saga ends with guilty verdict – and up to four years in prison
  • @guyadams

The doctor did it. A saga which began with Michael Jackson's sudden and squalid death roughly two-and-half years ago ended in a Los Angeles court yesterday afternoon, when the singer's personal physician, Dr Conrad Murray, was found guilty of his homicide.

A jury took just over eight hours to convict Murray of involuntary manslaughter, a crime which leaves him facing up to four years in jail. They decided that the doctor recklessly gave the 50-year-old patient a dangerous cocktail of prescription drugs, including propofol, the powerful anaesthetic that eventually killed him.

Murray sat motionless as the verdict was read out, looking upset but hardly surprised. He was immediately remanded in custody by the judge, Michael Pastor, who refused bail. After being handcuffed, he was led from court by police officers nodding to his girlfriend and mother, who mouthed "I love you" as he left.

"This was a crime where the end result was the death of a human being," noted Mr Pastor, who said the doctor's "reckless conduct poses a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public".

He added: "Dr Murray has been convicted of a felony. The jury found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and they did so unanimously."

To the surprise of some observers, Murray's lawyers indicated that he would not appeal, and instead wishes to return to court on 29 November for sentencing. As well as a prison term, he will almost certainly lose his medical licence.

Several members of Jackson's family were in court, including both of his parents, Joe and Katherine, and his siblings Jermaine, Randy and LaToya, who responded to the guilty verdict with a swiftly-muffled shriek. Outside, a small crowd cheered and waved placards saying: "Conrad Murray Burn in Hell!"

Over the course of a six-week trial that heard evidence from 49 witnesses, the prosecution successfully portrayed Murray as a greedy and incompetent figure who accepted a salary of $150,000 a month (£93,000) to feed Jackson's addiction to prescription drugs. He gave the singer propofol, an anaesthetic which should never usually be used outside a hospital setting, and then failed properly to monitor him. When his patient was dying, he neglected to call emergency services for 20 minutes, botched efforts to resuscitate him, and lied to paramedics about the drugs in his system.

The trial provided a sobering window into the world of Jackson, who was deep in debt and, despite his frail condition, had agreed to embark on a punishing schedule of rehearsals for what he hoped would be a lucrative series of comeback concerts.

In one shocking moment, the court was shown a picture of his corpse on a hospital trolley; in another, jurors were shown photographs of bedroom where he died, which was littered with medical paraphernalia. They also heard a tape recording of a drugged, slurring Jackson talking to Murray a few weeks earlier.

Murray's defence team meanwhile suffered a series of setbacks. Witnesses they wanted to testify about Jackson's financial difficulties and drug addiction were prevented from taking the stand by Judge Michael Pastor. He instead limited evidence to the days immediately surrounding the singer's death, on 25 June 2009.

The defence was further handicapped by an interview Murray gave to police shortly after that date, during which he talked of giving a small dose of propofol to Jackson. The admission left them in a tight corner, forcing them to argue – unsuccessfully – that the larger, fatal dose of the drug was nonetheless self-administered by the singer.


The words "guilty as charged" are unlikely to be the last we hear from the seven men and five women jurors. Shortly after their verdict, Judge Michael Pastor said they were free to speak publicly about the decision. But under California law they must wait 90 days before negotiating interview deals.

Trial timeline: what we learnt

April 2011:

Jury selection begins. Potential jurors fill out 30-page form, answering questions such as: Have you ever considered yourself a fan of Michael Jackson?

27 September

Trial's opening statements.

Prosecutors say Dr Murray acted with "gross negligence" and gave Jackson a lethal dose of propofol. Defence claims Jackson administered too much of the drug himself.

29 September

Jackson's bodyguard testifies that Dr Murray asked him to pick up vials of medicine and intravenous bags before calling an ambulance.

30 September

Paramedics tell the court that as they were trying to revive Jackson, Dr Murray neglected to inform them that he had given the singer propofol.

20 October

Propofol expert Dr Steven Shafer says Dr Murray made 17 mistakes when administering the drug to Jackson.

24 October

Dr Allan Metzger, a friend of Jackson, says the singer had requested anaesthetics from him before to aid sleep.

27 October

Former patients of Dr Murray praise his medical skills.

28 October

Defence witness Dr Robert Waldman says Jackson was addicted to the painkiller Demerol, and that he had large doses in the months leading up to his death.

1 November

Dr Murray announces that he will not testify in his own defence.

3 November

Case goes to jury. Prosecutors say Dr Murray's care of Jackson had been bizarre. Defence maintains singer caused his own death while doctor was out room.