Justice Served: Conrad Murray Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Michael Jackson Manslaughter

Judge gives maximum sentence allowed under law, sending late star's doctor to state prison; due to overcrowding, Murray will likely serve just a fraction of the time in a county jail

By Gina Serpe Nov 29, 2011 5:59 PMTags

The time may not fit the crime, but it's the most the judge could give.

Just three weeks after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years in state prison, the maximum punishment for his propofol-pushing misdeeds.

"He has absolutely no sense of remorse and absolutely no sense of fault," Los Angeles Superior County Judge Michael Pastor said while handing down his blistering sentence. "And he's dangerous."

"There are those who believe Dr. Murray is a saint. There are those who believe Dr. Murray is the devil. He is neither. He is a human being."

A human being who just got the book thrown at him.

Pastor handed down the sentence in front of a packed courtroom this morning, with attendees including Katherine, Jermaine, Rebbie, La Toya and other Jackson family members, along with family friend Kathy Hilton.

The maximum sentence was what prosecutors had requested, while defense attorneys had been seeking simply probation for their client, who has been behind bars since the verdict, much of his time logged in the Los Angeles County Jail's medical ward.

The sentence was delivered to Murray—transferred to a holding cell in the courthouse earlier this morning—after attorney and Jackson family friend Brian Parish read out a statement on behalf of the family:

"There's no way to adequately describe the loss of our beloved father, son, brother and friend. We still look at each other in disbelief: is it really possible he is gone?

"As brothers and sisters, we will never be able to hold, laugh or perform again with our brother Michael. As his children, we will grow up without our father, our best friend, our playmate and our dad. We are not here to seek revenge. There is nothing you can do 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."

District Attorney David Walgren also urged the judge to impose the maximum penalty, noting the "planning and sophistication" of the negligence in Murray's "grossly corrupted" care. He requested that probation not be considered in the case.

Before handing down the sentence, Pastor described Murray's actions as "offensive" and "longstanding failure of character."

Speaking to his "continuing series of lies," "unconscionable lies to health care providers," "attempt to destroy evidence," and "subsequent attempts to cover up with distortions and lies to law enforcement," Pastor called out Murray's surreptitious recording of Jackson as the most disturbing of the doctor's actions, referring to it as "Dr. Murray's insurance policy."

"I cannot imagine that happening to any of us because of the horrific violation of trust.

"Michael Jackson died not because of an isolated, one-off incident," the judge said. "He died because of a totality of circumstances which are directly attributable to Dr. Murray. Not some mistake, or some accident...but because of a series of decisions that Dr. Murray made that jeopardized his patient, that violated his obligations to his patient and the essence of his Hippocratic oath."

As for why he denied probation, Pastor said a defendant must show "some responsibility, some remorse. Why give probation to someone who is offended by the whole idea that that person is even before the court? You can't have probation when there isn't an acknowledgment of responsibility...and Dr. Murray doesn't have any of it.

"This is an unacceptable, egregious series of departures from the standard of care...which is a disgrace to the medical profession.

"I believe he is a danger to the community."

Still it is unlikely Murray will serve all or even most of his time, due to a newly instated California law. He will be sent back to county jail, where he is expected to serve a fraction of his time behind bars due to rampant overcrowding, though could also be sprung for early release, home detention or some other alternative, which will be under the discretion of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Additionally, Murray was ordered to pay restitution in an as-yet undetermined amount and provide specimens and samples to the state DNA databank. His restitution amount will be decided in a hearing set for Jan. 23. Murray is not required to be present at that proceeding.