The verdict against Dr. Conrad Murray marked the latest chapter in one of pop culture’s most shocking tragedies — the death of the King of Pop on the eve of the singer’s heavily promoted comeback concerts.
Members of Jackson’s family, including his sister LaToya, wept quietly after the verdict was read.
Mother Katherine Jackson later told the Associated Press, “I feel better now.”
Asked whether she was confident this would be the outcome, she said, “Yes, I was.”
Calm convict, jubilant crowd
Murray sat stone-faced as the verdict was read and was handcuffed and taken into custody without bail until sentencing Nov. 29. He appeared calm as officials led him out of the courtroom.
“Dr. Murray’s reckless conduct in this case poses a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public” if he remains free on bond, Judge Michael Pastor said.
A shriek broke the eerie silence in the packed courtroom when the verdict was read, and a crowd erupted outside the courthouse. Jubilant Jackson fans cheered and sang “Beat It” as they held signs that read “guilty” and “killer.” Passing motorists honked their horns.
The jury deliberated less than nine hours. The Houston cardiologist, 58, faces a sentence of up to four years in prison. He also could lose his medical license.
Tale of two doctors
The six-week trial told the tale of a tormented genius on the brink of what might have been his greatest triumph, with one impediment standing in his way — extreme insomnia.
Prosecutors portrayed Murray as an incompetent doctor who used the anesthetic propofol without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left Jackson abandoned as he lay dying.
Murray’s lawyers sought to show the doctor was a medical angel of mercy, with former patients vouching for his skills. Murray told police from the outset that he gave Jackson propofol and other sedatives as the star struggled for sleep to prepare for his shows. But the doctor said he administered only a small dose June 25, 2009, the day Jackson died.
Lawyers for Murray and a defense expert blamed Jackson for his own death, saying the singer gave himself the fatal dose of propofol while Murray wasn’t watching.
Jackson, 50, was found not breathing in his own bed in his rented mansion after being dosed intravenously with propofol, a drug normally administered in hospitals during surgery.
The coroner ruled the case a homicide, and the blame would fall to the last person who had seen Jackson alive — Murray, who had been hired to care for the singer as the comeback concerts neared.
Craving sleep, Jackson had searched for a doctor who would give him the intravenous anesthetic that Jackson called his “milk” and believed to be his salvation. Other medical professionals turned him down, according to trial testimony.
Testimony showed Murray gave Jackson intravenous doses that night of the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam. Jackson also took a Valium pill. But nothing seemed to bring sleep.
Finally, Murray told police, he gave the singer a small dose of propofol — 25 milligrams — that seemed to put him to sleep. The doctor said he felt it was safe to leave his patient’s bedside for a few minutes, but Jackson was not breathing when he returned.
Witnesses said he was most likely dead at that point.
What happened next was a matter of dispute during the trial. Security and household staff described Murray as panicked, never calling 911 but trying to give Jackson CPR on his bed instead of the firm floor.
A guard said Murray was concerned with packing up and hiding medicine bottles and IV equipment before telling him to call 911. Prosecutors said Murray was distracted while Jackson was sedated, citing Murray’s cell phone records to show he made numerous calls.
There was no law against administering propofol or the other sedatives. But prosecution expert witnesses said Murray was acting well below the standard of care required of a physician.
They said using propofol in a home setting without lifesaving equipment on hand was an egregious deviation from that standard.