A Los Angeles jury found Conrad Murray, the physician accused of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson, guilty on Monday.
The jury, made up of five men and seven women, deliberated for about eight hours between Friday and Monday after hearing closing arguments from the prosecution and defense throughout the day on Nov. 3 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Murray, 58, sat stoically while the verdict was read. His lead attorney, Ed Chernoff, who came to Los Angeles from Houston to defend him, looked sullen and frustrated. After the announcement, dismissal of the jury and queries on sentencing to the defense, Murray was remanded and denied bail. Sentencing was set for Nov. 29.
The six-week trial hinged largely on scientific demonstrations and the testimonies of two well-regarded anesthesiologists, Dr. Steven Shafer and Dr. Paul White. Both are highly published and sought-after lecturers and experts on the anesthetic propofol. They were on opposite sides when it came to determining whether Murray was negligent by leaving Jackson’s bedside after he gave him an injection of the drug and by failing to immediately call 911 when he returned to discover that Jackson was not breathing.
An autopsy found that Jackson was killed by an overdose of the drug. Defense lawyers argued that Murray’s carelessness caused a lethal amount of it to seep into Jackson’s system. Murray admitted to giving propofol to Jackson but said he was trying to wean him off it because he feared the pop singer was becoming addicted. Meanwhile, Murray’s defense countered that Jackson could have taken the drug while Murray was out of the bedroom. White himself said on the stand that Jackson, desperate for sleep in preparation for his comeback This Is It tour, may have injected himself with the drug, causing his own death.
Others, including Jackson’s bodyguard, nurse and people involved with the launch of the tour, were also called to the stand. Murray told Judge Michael Pastor that he would not testify in his own defense.
Loyola Law School Los Angeles Professor Stan Goldman, who has been monitoring the trial from the beginning, said the verdict came as no surprise given the strength of the prosecution’s case.
“I think it would have been a shocker if this hadn’t happened,” he explained. “Conrad Murray’s criminal negligence was pretty obvious once the trial got going.”
He continued, “The prosecution’s case was pretty overwhelming. The best argument the defense had was one they couldn’t make: that Michael Jackson wanted this particular doctor to give him this powerful sleep medication. The only chance the defense had was to prove that Jackson caused his own death.”
With the guilty verdict, Murray could face four years behind bars and the loss of his medical license.