*Even though the doctor convicted in the overdose death of Michael Jackson was sentenced to the maximum four years behind bars Tuesday, Los Angeles Sheriff’s officials announced that Dr. Conrad Murray will only serve a little less than two years behind bars due to California’s Realignment Act.
The Sheriffs office also said Murray will be housed in a one-man cell and kept away from other prisoners.
Dr. Conrad Murray sat stoically with his hands crossed as Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor repeatedly chastised him for what he called a “horrific violation of trust” while caring for Jackson. The judge also denounced him as a reckless physician whose actions were a “disgrace to the medical profession.”
However, Pastor conceded his sentence was constrained by a recent change in California law that requires Murray to serve his sentence in county jail rather than state prison.
“This is going to be a real test of our criminal justice system to see if it’s meaningful at all,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said.
Cooley said he was considering asking the judge to modify the sentence to classify the crime as a serious felony warranting incarceration in state prison.
Meanwhile, the judge was relentless in his bashing of the 58-year-old Murray, saying he lied repeatedly and had not shown remorse for his actions in the treatment of Jackson. Pastor also said Murray’s heavy use of the powerful anesthetic propofol to help Jackson battle insomnia violated his sworn obligation.
“It should be made very clear that experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated, and Mr. Jackson was an experiment,” Pastor said. “Dr. Murray was intrigued by the prospect and he engaged in this money for medicine madness that is simply not going to be tolerated by me.”
Pastor also said Murray has “absolutely no sense of fault, and is and remains dangerous” to the community.
As previously reported, the judge said one of the most disturbing aspects of Murray’s case was a slurred recording of Jackson recovered from the doctor’s cell phone. “That tape recording was Dr. Murray’s insurance policy,” Pastor said. “It was designed to record his patient surreptitiously at that patient’s most vulnerable point.”
Defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan said after the sentencing that he was surprised the judge focused on the recording. The lawyer also contended that nothing said during the hearing would have changed the judge’s mind about the sentence.
As reported, Michael Jackson’s family told Pastor in a statement read earlier that they were not seeking revenge but wanted Murray to receive a stiff sentence that served as a warning to opportunistic doctors. It also included elements from Jackson’s parents, siblings and his three children.
“As his brothers and sisters, we will never be able to hold, laugh or perform again with our brother Michael,” the statement said. “And as his children, we will grow up without a father, our best friend, our playmate and our dad.”
The family told The Associated Press after the sentencing that they were pleased with the results.
“We’re going to be a family. We’re going to move forward. We’re going to tour, play the music and miss him,” brother Jermaine Jackson said.
Before sentencing, lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff attacked Jackson, as he and his team frequently did during the doctor’s trial. “Michael Jackson was a drug seeker,” he said.
Murray did not directly address the court. After sentencing, he mouthed the words “I love you” to his mother and girlfriend in the courtroom.
Murray’s mother, Milta Rush, sat alone on a bench in the courthouse hallway after the sentencing.
“My son is not what they charged him to be,” she said quietly. “He was a gentle child from the time he was small. ”
Of her son’s future, she said, “God is in charge.”
In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited Murray’s statements to advocate for the maximum term. They also want him to pay restitution to the singer’s three children — Prince, Paris and Blanket. The exact amount Murray has to pay will be determined at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 23.
“Anything over a couple of dollars, he’s not going to be able to pay anyway,” Flanagan said.
Murray was deeply in debt when he agreed to serve as Jackson’s personal physician for $150,000 a month, and the singer died before Murray received any money.