Jackson trial: Doctor gets maximum four years in prison

LOS ANGELES (RNN) - Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's former doctor, was sentenced to the maximum four years in prison after a jury convicted him Nov. 7 of involuntary manslaughter for the pop star's 2009 death. He will also be required to pay restitution, the amount to be determined at a later time.

"Michael Jackson died not because of an isolated, one-off instance; he died because of a totality of circumstances directly attributed to Dr. Murray," Judge Michael E. Pastor said Tuesday. He cited the haunting recording Murray made of Jackson that was played during the trial as a driving factor in his sentencing.

"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy," Pastor said. "It was designed to record his patient surreptitiously while he was at his most vulnerable."

Pastor also said he could not give Murray probation because the doctor did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in his actions and would therefore not benefit from rehabilitation.

"The doctor was playing Russian roulette with Michael Jackson's life every single night," prosecution attorney David Walgren told the judge while arguing for the maximum sentence for the crime. "Dr. Murray left him alone to die."

The defense argued that the sum of Murray's life meant that he should not be stuck in jail while he could be in the community, doing good deeds. They urged the judge to consider probation instead of jail time.

"No matter if he's a barista, he's a greeter at Wal-Mart - he will always be the man that killed Michael Jackson," defense attorney Ed Chernoff said. "He could do things on probation that he couldn't do sitting in that little room."

A statement read by the Jackson family attorney, Brian Panish, highlighted the depth of their loss.

"We ask that you impose a sentence that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder and throw aside their Hippocratic Oath," he said.

"The doctor-patient relationship was fundamentally destroyed," Walgren said. "He [Jackson] trusted that he would be monitored, he would be cared for. He trusted he would see another day, he would see his children another day."

A defense motion to keep cameras and audio recorders out of the courtroom, in the interest of Murray's privacy, was denied by Pastor in light of a documentary film starring Murray shot revolving around the Jackson case.

Murray was convicted after a trial that lasted a little over five weeks.

The prosecution argued that Murray was an incompetent doctor, with numerous witnesses testifying to the lack of proper equipment kept at the Jackson house and questioning the use of propofol, the surgical anesthetic that killed Jackson, in an in-home setting.

The defense argued that Jackson was responsible for his overdose. Witnesses attempted to paint the pop star as a desperate drug addict who would do whatever necessary to get propofol, guided by the belief that it was the only thing that could help him sleep at night.

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