Los Angeles, Nov 30 Late pop star Michael Jackson’s personal physician Conrad Murray was Tuesday sentenced to four years in prison on a charge of “involuntary manslaughter”.
Before announcing the sentence, Judge Michael Pastor lashed out at Murray, noting that the cardiologist made an “egregious series of departures from the accepted standard of care” that represented a “disgrace to the medical profession — an honourable profession which bears the blot, the scourge, of what happened here.”
Murray, 58, was found guilty by a jury Nov 7.
Brian Panish, an attorney for the family of Michael Jackson, read a statement to the court here on behalf of the family, Xinhua reported.
“There is no way to adequately describe the loss of our beloved father, son, brother and friend,” the statement reads.
“We still look at each other in disbelief…We are not here to seek revenge. There is nothing you can do here today to bring Michael back…
“We respectfully request that you impose a sentence that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder and cast aside their hippocratic oath to do no harm.”
Despite the four-year sentence, the exact amount of time Murray will serve behind bars was unclear due to overcrowding in the county jail system.
The sum of the restitution Murray is supposed to pay to the Jackson Estate and his three children will be determined at a Jan 23 hearing, the judge ruled.
Jackson, 50, died June 25, 2009 in his rented Holmby Hills estate near Los Angeles when he was rehearsing for his series of 50 sold-out concerts, dubbed “This is It,” to be staged in London.
He would have earned at least $100 million from the tour, according to reports.
Los Angeles County Coroner’s office ruled the singer died from an acute intoxication of Propofol, a powerful anaesthetic and other sedatives under the care of Murray.
Before the jury announced their decisions Nov 7, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren called Murray’s treatment of the pop icon “unethical, unconscionable, and an extreme deviation from the standard of care”.
He said Murray demonstrated “consciousness of guilt” by failing to tell paramedics and emergency room doctors that he had given the singer the potent drug.
The former doctor only told the police about the anesthetic two days later because he thought investigators had already found the medication at the singer’s rented mansion, according to Walgren.
Defence attorneys argued Murray, who was hired by Jackson to care for him two months before his death, was weaning Jackson off the medication.
“I was not surprised,” defence attorney Michael Flanagan said, referring to the sentencing. “That was cast a long time ago.”
Jackson’s mother, Katherine, said she was satisfied with the outcome of the high-publicity trial and expressed her gratitude to prosecutors when she was leaving the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
“The judge gave him the maximum,” she said. “So I thank the judge and I thank the prosecutors, and I think everything went well.”
“100 years is not enough” was what Jackson’s brother, Jermaine shouted as he walked by reporters.
Many of the Jackson fans who gathered outside the courthouse agreed that four-year imprisonment is not enough as a punishment for Murray.