Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday for causing the death of the King of Pop, the maximum sentence possible for the crime of involuntary manslaughter.
Murray will serve his term at the L.A. County Jail instead of a state prison because of California’s “realignment” process, which places non-violent felons in local jails due to overcrowding.
It’s likely that Murray’s sentence will be cut in half because of overcrowding.
The doctor was also ordered to pay restitution to the Jackson family. The amount will be determined at a future court date.
Judge Michael Pastor cited the definition of “criminal negligence” as the reason for his sentence, saying Murray violated “his sworn obligation for money, fame, prestige.”
The judge said Murray showed no remorse for the crime. He called the notion that another health care provider would have behaved the way Murray did an “insult” to the medical community.
To Pastor, the recording of Jackson under the influence of propofol found on Murray’s phone proved that the doctor was not concerned for Jackson’s well-being.
“That tape recording was Dr. Murray’s insurance policy,” Pastor said, adding that it would have had significant value to a media organization.
Members of the Jackson’s family, including his mother Katherine, sister La Toya and brother Jermaine, were present at the sentencing hearing, as was family friend Kathy Hilton.
Brian Panish, a lawyer for the Jackson family, read a statement on their behalf. As Panish read of the family’s grief and wish to have the doctor receive the maximum punishment, Murray kept his eyes down.
Murray chose not to speak at the hearing.
During the hearing, lead prosecutor David Walgren argued against Murray receiving probation, citing his violation of the patient-doctor relationship and Jackson’s “vulnerability” at the time of his death.
Defense attorney Ed Chernoff said that while Jackson’s death was a tragedy, Murray’s entire life should be considered in sentencing.
“I do wonder though to what extent the court considers the entirety of a man’s book of life, as opposed to just one chapter,” Chernoff said. Because of Murray’s past good deeds, Chernoff argued that he shouldn’t be sentenced to prison “if punishment's the point ... as opposed to vengeance.”
“He’s still going to be the man who killed Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said of Murray’s life after the trial. “Does any of that matter?”