Jury took nearly nine hours to return a verdict against Jackson's former doctor.
By Gil Kaufman
After nearly six weeks of testimony and several gasp-inducing courtroom moments, the jury in the involuntary manslaughter trial against former Michael Jackson doctor Conrad Murray rendered a guilty verdict Monday (November 7) after almost nine hours of deliberation.
The verdict came after 49 witnesses took the stand and the prosecution presented often-bruising testimony against Murray, a cardiologist with clinics in Texas and Las Vegas who was recruited in 2009 by Jackson to help the then-50-year-old star stay healthy in the run-up to his planned 50-date comeback tour, This Is It.
The prosecution brought a long list of medical experts and emergency-room doctors to the stand to testify that Murray had not followed proper procedure in dealing with Jackson when the singer was in distress on the morning of June 25, 2009. They also presented evidence that the care Murray provided for Jackson in the weeks and months leading up to that fateful morning were substandard or outside the bounds of legal and ethical requirements. The witnesses concluded that Murray lacked the proper monitoring equipment to administer the surgical anesthetic propofol to Jackson, an off-label use of the intravenously delivered drug that was reportedly employed to help chronic insomniac Jackson get to sleep.
Investigators found that Murray ordered nearly 4 gallons of propofol in his treatment regimen for Jackson and administered the drug inside the singer's rented home, a practice that all the prosecution experts said was unheard of. Jurors also heard testimony about how Murray left Jackson's bedroom for a period after providing him with propofol and spent his time making calls and sending texts to a former girlfriend. When he realized Jackson was in distress, Murray gave the pop star CPR on a bed, a decision that also deviated from the suggested method requiring a hard surface under the patient.
Murray was additionally faulted for waiting more than 20 minutes to call 911, not keeping proper records and failing to tell the paramedics and ER doctors that he had given Jackson propofol.
While prosecution witnesses claimed Murray acted with "gross negligence" in treating Jackson, the physician's own team of lawyers countered with a string of defense witnesses who called into question claims made by Jackson's bodyguard that he requested that staffers hide bottles of propofol before he dialed 911. Other character witnesses testified to the generous, attentive nature of Murray's medical practice, while expert defense witnesses cast doubt on the theories about Jackson's death provided by the prosecution's star witness, Dr. Steven Shafer.
Murray, who was slated to make $150,000 a month to care for Jackson, had pleaded not guilty to the single felony charge and is now facing four years in prison. But new sentencing laws in California aimed at mandatorily reducing state prison overcrowding mean that, as a nonviolent offender with no prior record, he is likely to be sentenced to county jail instead. If that is the case, his sentence could be reduced further.
He also still faces a civil lawsuit brought by MJ's father, Joseph Jackson, which seeks financial restitution. Both Joseph Jackson and Michael's mother, Katherine, were on hand to hear Monday's verdict, along with several of the singer's siblings and a throng of sign-waving fans gathered in support of both Jackson and Murray.
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