*Dr. Conrad Murray was placed on suicide watch at the L.A. County Jail on Monday, hours after he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson’s death and being taken into custody.
As previously reported, Murray was placed in handcuffs immediately after the judge ruled he is to remain behind bars pending his Nov. 29 sentencing.
A law enforcement source, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said Murray was placed on suicide watch once in custody.
The cardiologist, who had once told patients that working for Jackson was “the opportunity of a lifetime,” faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison. But Dr. Murray may spend as little as a few months behind bars.
Legal experts said that he was ultimately likely to benefit from a new California law that deals with chronic overcrowding in the state’s jails.
Trial judge Michael Pastor could sentence Murray on Nov. 29 to probation, home confinement or up to four years in state prison. He was found guilty of gross negligence by giving Jackson the anesthetic propofol — normally used to sedate patients for surgery — that was deemed the main cause of the Jackson’s 2009 death.
But California adopted a new law last month that sends low-risk prison inmates to county jails, and the officials who run Los Angeles county jails have been releasing inmates early because of a lack of space.
Beverly Hills-based defense attorney Mark McBride said Murray’s actual time served could be even less. That is partly because the crime of involuntary manslaughter is not considered a serious felony under California law, and carries a stipulation that only 50 percent of any sentence must be served behind bars.
Add in jail overcrowding and “what that means is that Murray could do three or four months,” McBride told Reuters.
Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan is one high profile example of the vagaries of busy Los Angeles jails. She was locked up for less than six hours of a 30-day sentence this past weekend for probation violations for jewelry theft and drunk driving convictions.
The three weeks that Murray will serve in jail before sentencing will likely be counted against any term he might receive, the district attorney’s office said.