LOS ANGELES (AP) — The doctor convicted in the overdose death of Michael Jackson was sentenced to the maximum four years behind bars Tuesday by a judge who denounced him as a reckless physician whose actions were a "disgrace to the medical profession."
Dr. Conrad Murray sat stoically with his hands crossed as Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor repeatedly chastised him for what he called a "horrific violation of trust" while caring for Jackson.
However, Pastor conceded his sentence was constrained by a recent change in California law that requires Murray to serve his sentence in county jail rather than state prison.
In addition, the time that Murray will serve in the overcrowded jail also is out of the judge's hands. That decision will be made by the Sheriff's Department, and with good behavior, Murray could serve half of the four years.
"If the sheriff is consistent, Dr. Murray's sentence in terms of time incarcerated will be very short," District Attorney Steve Cooley said after the sentencing.
The judge was relentless in his bashing of Murray, saying he lied repeatedly and had not shown remorse for his actions in the treatment of Jackson. Pastor also said Murray's heavy use of the powerful anesthetic propofol to help Jackson battle insomnia violated his sworn obligation.
"It should be made very clear that experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated, and Mr. Jackson was an experiment," Pastor said. "Dr. Murray was intrigued by the prospect and he engaged in this money for medicine madness that is simply not going to be tolerated by me."
Pastor also said Murray "has absolutely no sense of remorse, absolutely no sense of fault, and is and remains dangerous" to the community.
The judge said.one of the most disturbing aspects of Murray's case was a slurred recording of Jackson recovered from the doctor's cell phone.
"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy," Pastor said. "It was designed to record his patient surreptitiously at that patient's most vulnerable point."
Defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan said after the sentencing that he was surprised the judge focused on the recording. The lawyer also contended that nothing said during the hearing would have changed the judge's mind about the sentence.
Michael Jackson's family told Pastor in a statement read earlier that they were not seeking revenge but wanted Murray to receive a stiff sentence that served as a warning to opportunistic doctors.
It included elements from Jackson's parents, siblings and his three children.
"As his brothers and sisters, we will never be able to hold, laugh or perform again with our brother Michael," the statement said. "And as his children, we will grow up without a father, our best friend, our playmate and our dad."
The family told The Associated Press after the sentencing that they were pleased with the results.
"We're going to be a family. We're going to move forward. We're going to tour, play the music and miss him," brother Jermaine Jackson said.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a six-week trial that presented the most detailed account yet of Jackson's final hours but left many questions about Murray's treatment of the superstar with propofol.
Before sentencing, lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff highlighted the accomplishments of Murray.
"I do wonder though to what extent the court considers the entirety of a man's book of life, as opposed to one chapter," he told the judge.
Chernoff also attacked Michael Jackson, as he and his team frequently did during the doctor's trial.
"Michael Jackson was a drug seeker," Chernoff said.
Murray did not directly address the court. After sentencing, he mouthed the words "I love you" to his mother and girlfriend in the courtroom.
Jackson's death in June 2009 stunned the world, as did the ensuing investigation that led to Murray being charged in February 2010.
Murray told detectives he had been giving the singer nightly doses of propofol to help him sleep as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts. Propofol is supposed to be used in hospital settings and has never been approved for sleep treatments, yet Murray acknowledged giving it to Jackson then leaving the room on the day the singer died.
Murray declined to testify during his trial but did opt to participate in a documentary in which he said he didn't consider himself guilty of any crime and blamed Jackson for entrapping him into administering the propofol doses. His attorneys contended throughout the case that Jackson must have given himself the fatal dose when Murray left the singer's bedside.
In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited Murray's statements to advocate for the maximum term. They also want him to pay restitution to the singer's three children — Prince, Paris and Blanket.
The exact amount Murray has to pay will be determined at a hearing in January.
"Anything over a couple of dollars, he's not going to be able to pay anyway," Flanagan said.
Murray was deeply in debt when he agreed to serve as Jackson's personal physician for $150,000 a month, and the singer died before Murray received any money.
Prosecutors said the relationship of Jackson and Murray was corrupted by greed. Murray left his practices to serve as Jackson's doctor and look out for his well-being, but instead acted as an employee catering to the singer's desire to receive propofol to put him to sleep, prosecutors said.
Murray's attorneys relied largely on 34 letters from relatives, friends and former patients to portray Murray in a softer light and win a lighter sentence. The letters and defense filings described Murray's compassion as a doctor, including accepting lower payments from his mostly poor patients.
"There is no question that the death of his patient, Mr. Jackson, was unintentional and an enormous tragedy for everyone affected," defense attorneys wrote in their sentencing memo.
I have to admit, when I stated the things that I have stated about Judge Pastor on this blog, I was not too fond of him. I explained why in this blog. After watching/viewing his speech about Murray sentencing today, I really respected this judge.
Judge Pastor practically destroyed Dr. Murray and everything that Murray was about. When you watched the judge speak about Murray, you almost forgot that Murray was a doctor. The judge reminded the people that this case is not about a celebrity. This case was about a human being that was murdered in the hands of a doctor who violated his oath. The judge also implicitly reminded the people what Murray and countless other people have been doing to Michael ever since Michael was a child - misused his trust.
The judge made it clear that Murray had an obligation to do regarding Michael and if he could not do the job, he should stay away. That one day when Michael died is not the actual cause of Michael's murder but a totality of things that caused his murder. Instead of Murray telling health care professionals that he gave MJ profophol, he decided to try to cover up his mess and pretend as if he did not unintentionally kill Michael. The entire time he lied to health professions, the LAPD, his lawyers and eventually Michael's family. He did not care what he done because in his view, he was not guilty of anything. That is a sign of a sociopath.
I do not care about people like Murray because people like him are selfish, pathetic, manipulative human beings that have no compassion for people. The people that Murray saved were not people that he can make money off. Most of those people were poor and he helped those people for free. He treated them with respect and dignity because those people could not anything for him financially. However, Michael Jackson was different to Murray. Michael was not a human being to Murray, he was his pension, 401 K, retirement fund, ATM machine, paycheck, a bonus, and, as Judge Pastor stated so well, his insurance policy. So, in his eyes, he did not have to treat Michael as a human being. He did not have to save his life or care about how he felt.
So, when Michael want to use the sedative to help him sleep, Murray did not say "no, let me referral you to a sleep center or to see a therapist" he gave right in. He did not think about Michael who needed HELP. He thought about the golden ticket. When Murray did not send an release/obtain consent form to any of Michael's doctors to request for Michael's medical records, he did not care about Michael. When Murray did not do ONE SINGLE document or record on paper ANY medication notes, he did not care about Michael.
Murray recorded Michael in a drug induced state because he did not think that Michael would care. He clearly did it without Michael knowing and he violated his trust. Murray could have never do that to any of his patients that he cared about because they were human to him. Yet, to Michael, he recorded Michael because Michael was anything but a human being.
When Murray did that documentary of a mess that was aired on the shameful MSNBC cable network, he stated that he was not guilty of what he did to Michael. He even blame Michael's death on Michael and not him. That bothered the judge so badly that he stated that Murray is a danger to the public. To be called a danger to the public is so shameful that one cannot recover from it. However, Murray, by action, never cared about what he did. He only cared about himself.
So, what is the lesson here? What can one learn from this sad story? We can learn so many things from this difficult story. We can learn that everyone is a human being no matter how famous that person is. We can learn that health professionals have to have compassion for people and understand that they are in the business of healing and helping. Blaming a patient/client for their situation or death is NOT COMPASSION! It is not how a health professional should say about a patient/client. If a patient has a drug issue HELP THEM. That is why the patient is there - TO GET HELP. The whole purpose of a healer is to HELP and HEAL the sick. That is their natural core. We can learn that the love of money is the root to all evil. Murray was a doctor who chose to love money more than saving the life of a man that was dying. We can learn that every action has a reaction. If you make the action to do bad medicine, the reaction WILL BE HORRIBLE.
As for as closure is concern, as a fan this sentencing is once again bringing back the horrible memories of June 25th, 2009. I do not think I can ever truly get over the murder of Michael Jackson. It has been two years and the pain never goes away. It seems like everyday I try not to get too caught up into any of this nightmare but I can't help but get caught up. Michael Jackson was a part of my life. There is not one time in my life where Michael was not in my life. I do not think any amount of words could even describe what Michael meant to me as a person. Even though I can move on from this, I will never truly let go of Michael. It is impossible to let go.
I think about his family and children and what they are going through on a daily basis. Sometimes, I focus on my grief and what I go through with my grief and I forget about the Jacksons and what they go through. Then, I remember thinking about the time I was on youtube.com and I watched an interview that Jermaine and Tito Jackson did some two years ago and they stated that everywhere they go, people stop them and tell them that they are sorry for their lost. Jermaine said that when that happens, they feel sad because of the lost of their brother. When you really think about that, the Jacksons have to go all over the world and do their thing and when people come up to them and tell them that Michael meant so much to them, they are in grief mode. That happens to them all the time and that is what they have to go through every single day for the rest of their lives. The lost of a family member is a painful emotion that only people who experienced it can truly understand how that feels. To never see that person again in the physical form is a pain that is unbearable. That is why I pray for the family because the lost of Michael is so painful for the family.
For the fans, we have to keep his legacy alive and continue to do right by others. We have to learn from Michael's life and always help those in need. God used Michael to get his word out to all of us and we must know that.
I hope that wherever Michael is in heaven, he is happy and having a great time. He truly deserves it. I hope he knows that we miss him so much and that one day we will all finally see him again.
Originally from the Associated Press (AP) "Michael Jackson's doctor sentenced to 4 years" by Anthony McCartney
Video of Judge Michael Pastor statement regarding Dr. Murray's sentencing from the youtube.com account of mjfansboycottsony
Picture of Michael smiling from 1987 was from my personal harddrive.