On June 25, 2009, the world was stunned by the death of world-renowned entertainer Michael Jackson at the hands of his personal physician Dr. Conrad Murray. On Monday, Nov. 7, Murray was found guilty in Jackson’s death, which the Los Angeles County coroner ruled was the result of acute Propofol intoxication in combination with sedatives.
Murray is a cardiologist but is not board-certified. After six weeks of testimony and dozens of witnesses, it took the seven-man, five-woman jury just a little over nine hours to find Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop icon.
As the unanimous guilty verdict was announced, the cameras were trained on Murray, who remained stoic. There was a single audible gasp in the courtroom. Crowds outside the courthouse broke out in celebration. According to HLN, which broadcast gavel-to-gavel daily coverage and trial analysis, Jackson’s mother, Katherine, put her head down and gently wiped away tears.
The prosecution team, led by David Walgren, presented a blistering array of witnesses including medical personnel and a bevy of women with whom Murray had been allegedly involved. Current girlfriend Nicole Alvarez has a young son with the married Murray. The prosecution showed that shipments of Propofol had been sent to her apartment.
Their star witness was Dr. Steve Schafer, a professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University. Schaeffer, an expert in the use of Propofol who contributed to the insert included with the drug, cited 17 deviations from the standard of care Jackson should have received while under the influence. The prosecution contended that Murray administered the drug via an IV drip that allowed it to spill unmonitored into Jackson, causing respiratory distress and death.
The defense team, led by Ed Chernoff, presented its own array of character witnesses who testified to the level of care they had received under Murray and who contradicted the prosecution’s claim of greed by Murray. The defense countered Schafer with its own star witness, Dr. Paul White, a former friend and colleague of Schafer’s who testified in support of the defense’s allegation that Jackson administered the fatal dose of Propofol to himself while Murray was out of the room. The jury didn’t buy it.
White will find himself back in court on Nov. 16 to face contempt of court charges for misconduct during the trial, for which he has already been fined $1,000.
Jackson was Murray’s only patient and was paying him $150,000 a month to manage the singer’s health as he prepared for a massive 50-date concert tour set to begin in London just weeks before his death. Murray admitted to giving Jackson the anesthetic drug two months prior to his death to help Jackson sleep.
In a surprising ruling, Judge Michael Pastor denied bail and Murray was immediately handcuffed and remanded into custody until his sentencing, which is set for Nov. 29. Murray could face as much as four years in prison and the loss of his medical license. Murray’s defense team is planning to appeal the ruling.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who eulogized Jackson, said of the ruling, “I received the news of the guilty verdict in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray with mixed emotions, feeling that only a down payment of justice has been served. Certainly, I feel that more punishment could and should have been served, but I am pleased that this jury didn’t blame Michael for his own death.
“For the Jackson family, particularly his mother and children who have gone through this horrific ordeal, to hear a verdict that buried Michael again would have been devastating. I am happy that they didn’t have to suffer that indignity. I feel that Dr. Murray and others who benefited from Michael but didn’t protect him got off relatively lightly.
“Michael lost his life and we lost one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. I lost a friend and will never forget him.”