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TV Column
Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 11/08/2011

Conrad Murray found guilty in Michael Jackson death; HLN hoots and hollers [Updated]


L-R (first row): Ryan Smith, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Mike Brooks. L-R (second row): Mike Galanos, Holly Hughes, John Manuelian. (HLN)
A jury found cardiologist Conrad Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter Monday afternoon in the death of pop star Michael Jackson, and Headline News was there to do what it does best: hootin’ and hollerin’.

“Conrad Murray in handcuffs in the courtroom!” HLN show host Vinnie Politan shrieked when the verdict was read in the Los Angeles courtroom. “Making the transition from doctor to convicted killer! There goes Conrad Murray. . . .

“He was free all through this trial — he’s no longer free. There are the cuffs! Dr. Conrad Murray is the man who killed Michael Jackson!” concluded Politan, host of HLN’s “Prime News.”

“On my deathbed, I will remember — this is one of the moments that will flash before my eyes,” HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell vowed, seconds before the verdict was read.

Sadly, HLN had to muddle through — before, during and after the verdict — without its High Priestess of Hootin’ and Hollerin’, Nancy Grace, who was busy rehearsing a jive for Monday night’s live “Dancing With the Stars.”

(UPDATE: Grace got the night’s lowest scores among all the celebs and chief judge Len Goodman told her, ominously: “Well, Nancy, yours is the Cinderella story. You’ve come to the ball and you’ve lasted for eight weeks, which I commend you for. However, for me, it’s midnight and it’s time to go home.” Talking to a gaggle of reporters from Hollywood publications backstage afer her dances, Grace found the Murray prosecutors guilty — of not charging the doctor with Murder One. But, she noted happily, “God’s gonna get him...he can run, but he can’t hide,” adding, “he and Casey Anthony can have a tea party in four years!”)

In Grace’s absence, HLN’s Velez-Mitchell — Grace’s regular guest host — bravely soldiered on:

“Incredible intensity — unbelievable scene: People praying, crying, hugging,” Velez-Mitchell emoted from the “crush of humanity” outside the courtroom.

“A woman fainted awhile ago and had to be taken away by ambulance. Oh my gosh! There’s a baby in there. . . . This is a crush for the child,” Velez-Mitchell told the mother, who was jumping up and down happily, clutching her infant at her chest. “I really suggest you have your child moved,” she told Mom, who smiled for the camera and ignored the advice.


Michael Jackson's parents Joe and Katherine Jackson arrive at the Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. (Nick Ut - AP)
Velez-Mitchell moved on. She had a job to do: turning over her microphone to one Sheila, who, the host explained, has been there during the trial. “I’m so happy. I just thank God we have justice today!” Sheila exclaimed.

“We’re so happy about the handcuffs,” chimed in a Pasadena blonde dressed in large designer sunglasses and houndstooth-check car coat.

“I don’t even know what to say, I’m so thankful. It’s such a release of emotion. The man needed to go to jail and he’s on his way! Yes! Yes! Yes!” shouted someone named Patty.

“Kudos to the prosecution,” Pasadena Blonde added, giving credit where credit was due.

“Will there be justice for The World’s Most Famous Man?” Politan wondered before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor entered and the show began.

“Think about Paris. Think about Blanket,” said Politan said, referring to Jackson’s kids. “Think about Prince William,” he added. Still talking about Jackson’s heirs.

The judge had instructed those in the room to remain silent as the verdict was read, but La Toya Jackson — who made a dramatically late Loretta Young entrance at the courthouse after tweeting, “I’m on my way – I’m shaking uncontrollably!” — was heard to let out a squeal. But La Toya put a lid on it when the room erupted with a loud “Shhhhh!”


Dr. Conrad Murray reacts after the jury returned with a guilty verdict in his involuntary manslaughter trial. (Al Seib - AP)
After the verdict was read, Velez-Mitchell struggled to buttonhole a Jackson relative as the family exited the courthouse. She tried but failed to catch Jackson’s parents, Katherine and Joe, but did landed brother Randy, who leaned into the crush of humanity to tell her, “Justice was served.” But he had issue with the length of the possible sentence as he added: “Michael was with us.”

“Michael is with us — you just heard that!” Velez-Mitchell reported. “From the family! Stopping to talk to us. . . . There are smiles — but there is no gloating.”

Velez-Mitchell cast her net again, this time snaring Jackson’s sister Rebbie. “Nothing will bring him back, but I’m glad [Murray] was found guilty,” Rebbie confided.

“Not that it will bring Michael Jackson back,” Velez-Mitchell reported. “But the family is clearly jubilant.”

Monday was the second day of deliberations. The jury deliberated for about six hours Friday and for less than three hours Monday before buzzing three times from the deliberation room, indicating it had reached a unanimous verdict.

Murray, who is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 29, was led from the courtroom minutes after the verdict was read. He could be sentenced to as long as four years in prison, as well as lose his medical license.

Jurors decided that Murray caused Jackson’s death in June 2009 when he administered the anesthetic propofol to the pop star at his home without then supervising his patient or taking appropriate action when Jackson stopped breathing.

Murray had said he was out of the room when Jackson gave himself the fatal dose.

The sensational trial included stunning photos of Jackson’s corpse on a hospital gurney and the playing of an audio recording in which a drugged Jackson slurred his words so badly he was barely intelligible.

Jackson reportedly had been unable to sleep without taking drugs while preparing for his “This Is It” concert tour.

By  |  11:00 AM ET, 11/08/2011

 
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