A LOS Angeles, United States (U.S.) Superior Court yesterday sentenced Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, to four years behind bars over the death of the late pop super star.
The trial judge, Michael Pastor, called Murray’s treatment of Jackson a “cycle of horrible medicine” and “medicine madness” which must never be allowed to repeat itself.
Murray was convicted three weeks ago after a six-week trial in which prosecutors successfully argued that his reckless use of the surgical anesthetic propofol to help Jackson sleep, without proper monitoring equipment, led to the singer’s death.
Testimony during the trial revealed that Murray gave propofol nearly every night in the two months before the singer’s death on June 25, 2009, as the former pop star prepared for his comeback concerts set for London the next month.
Prosecutors asked for the maximum four years behind bars, and for Murray to pay Jackson’s children more than $100 million in restitution. Defence lawyers requested probation.
However, before the sentence yesterday, Jackson’s children told the court that they lost their “father, best friend, and playmate” when the singer died, but stressed they were not seeking “revenge.”
The children were not present in the courtroom and their statement was read by lawyer and Jackson family friend, Brian Panish.
The statement asked the judge to “impose a sentence that reminds physicians they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder.”
Other members of the Jackson family were present, including Jackson’s mother, Katherine, his sister, LaToya and brothers, Jermaine and Randy. The statement was read by Panish on behalf of the entire Jackson family.
“As Michael’s parents, we never imagined we would live to witness his passing,” Panish read, on behalf of his parents, Katherine and Joe Jackson. “There is no way to describe the loss of our beloved brother, son, father and friend.”
The judge began the proceeding by rejecting a motion by Murray that cameras be evicted from the courtroom during his sentencing.
The district attorney asked for the maximum sentence of four years as well as $100 million – the singer’s projected earnings from the 50-show “This Is It” tour – payable to the Jackson estate.
The prosecution also asked Murray to pay $1.8 million in costs associated with Jackson’s memorial service and funeral.
Lawyers for Murray, who has no previous criminal record, asked that he received a minimum sentence of probation. The court rejected the request.
Prosecutors painted Murray as a callous physician who knew he was doing wrong by administering the powerful sedative propofol to Jackson, and then took pains to hide the drug when Jackson died.