Conrad Murray sentenced to maximum term in Michael Jackson death

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Dr. Conrad Murray was sentenced today to the maximum sentence possible for involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop music star Michael Jackson, four years in county jail. Jackson died in June 2009 of an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol Jackson was given as a sleep aid. Murray is unlikely to serve the full term due to overcrowding and prison realignment leading to less room in county jails. The L.A. Times reports that Murray will only serve about two years of his sentence behind bars.

Murray was sentenced Tuesday, three weeks after a jury convicted the cardiologist of involuntary manslaughter. The judge chastised him for a "horrific violation of trust" in caring for Jackson.

Judge Michael Pastor criticized lies by Murray following Jackson's death. "Dr. Murray engaged in a continuous, recurring pattern of deceit, of lies, and regrettably, that pattern was to assist Dr. Murray." Pastor listed a litany of other criticisms of Murray.

"Why give probation to someone who is offended by the whole idea that that person is even before the court? You cannot have probation when there is not an acknowledgment of rehabilitation and responsibility." Pastor said that Murray didn't exhibit that.

There wasn't much doubt once the sentencing started, KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill reports. The judge was quite vehement about the way Conrad Murray acted following Jackson's death.

The judge said that Jackson was extremely vulnerable and agreed with the district attorney that that vulnerability was being treated by Murray and exacerbated by the use of the anesthetic propofol.

The judge said that Jackson was in a position of trust, thinking he would be monitored while under this dangerous anesthesia, and he wasn't.

Prosecutors had urged the judge to sentence the doctor to the maximum, arguing his treatment of Jackson with a powerful anesthetic ended the life of the King of Pop and left his three children without a father.

"He unquestionably violated the trust and confidence of his patient, Mr. Jackson, on a repeated, nightly basis," Pastor said.

Attorneys for the 58-year-old Murray argued that probation was a more appropriate sentence, given his lack of a criminal history and the fact he will lose his medical license.

Murray's lawyer said to look at the whole picture, saying that Murray never committed a crime in his life, raised a family, served patients and pulled himself out of being dirt poor in Grenada. Murray's lawyer said that Murray served as a good example to his community and that Jackson was a drug seeker who sought drugs from Murray and others.

The judge didn't buy this line of defense and said that Murray's behavior was egregious.

L.A. County sheriff's officials have said that Murray will only serve about two years of the term, the L.A. Times reports. California state law says that nonviolent felons in California serve 50 percent of their sentences. However, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said that Murray's involuntary manslaughter conviction means he's not eligible for home detention, the Times reports.

Conrad Murray must also pay "appropriate restitution" to the family and children of Michael Jackson, Judge Pastor said. The amount will be determined at a later date.

Audio: More from KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill.

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