On November 29, 2011 Dr. Conrad Murray, who had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the death of singer Michael Jackson, was sentenced to four years behind bars.
Jackson, 50, died at his California home on July 25, 2009 after suffering cardiac arrest while under the influence of propofol, a surgical anesthetic that Murray had given the singer as a sleep aid.
Jackson’s death shocked the nation – and drew attention to the sometimes shady underworld of so-called celebrity concierge “Rock Docs” – some of whom are paid stratospheric fees and expected to be constantly on call for their superstar clients.
Jackson rose to fame by performing with his older brothers in the Jackson 5, but attained global superstardom with his 1982 solo album “Thriller.”
But by the 1990s, he became better known for his increasingly eccentric behavior – which reportedly included plastic surgeries, acquiring a menagerie of pets including a chimp named Bubbles and building a $17 million California compound he named Neverland.Over the years, rumors about Jackson and his close friendships with young boys who sometimes visited his home continued to spread.
In 2005, Jackson was tried and acquitted on child molestation charges – but, despite being cleared, he became more and more reclusive.
In March 2009, Jackson announced that he would perform a series of comeback concerts in London beginning in July.
That spring, Murray, a cardiologist raised in Trinidad, was hired at a monthly salary of $150,000 to serve as Jackson’s personal physician while the singer rehearsed for his upcoming shows.
Murray was Jackson’s personal physician until the day of his death in 2009.
On July 25, Jackson was found unconscious in bed in his mansion in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles by Murray.
Murray tried to revive him, but was unsuccessful and Jackson was pronounced dead at 2:26 that afternoon at nearby Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office ruled the performer’s death a homicide after lethal levels of the powerful sedative propofol, as well other drugs, were found in his system.
In February 2010, Murray, who had given Jackson propofol as a sleep aid almost every night for two months prior to his death, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty.
At his trial in 2011, prosecutors in the case told jurors that “misplaced trust in the hands of Murray cost Jackson his life“.
They portrayed Murray as a greedy hanger-on who recklessly administered propofol – a drug normally given in hospitals – to Jackson in an unmonitored setting.
The prosecution also alleged that Murray made several other medical errors, including relenting when Jackson begged him for propofol in order to sleep.
Additionally, Murray was accused of waiting to call 911 after discovering Jackson had stopped breathing – and with lying to paramedics and emergency-room doctors.
Meanwhile Murray’s attorneys claimed that Jackson, tired and under pressure from rehearsing, took eight tablets of the sedative lorazepam. The defense further claimed that Jackson self-administered a dose of propofol that, with the lorazepam, created a “perfect storm” in his body that killed him.
Alas, the Los Angeles jury didn’t buy the doctor’s story and on November 7, they found him guilty and sentenced him to a four-year jail term – the maximum punishment allowed under law.
The judge, in announcing his decision, criticized Murray for his lack of remorse and refusal to accept responsibility for his role in Jackson’s death, and said the doctor became involved in “a cycle of horrible medicine” in his dealings with the pop star.
After serving two years of his sentence, Murray was released on parole on October 28, 2013. His Texas medical license was revoked, and his California and Nevada licenses were suspended.
According to California Department of Consumer Affairs records, Murray has surrendered his license and is no longer permitted to practice medicine.
Since his release, Murray has continued to insist that he was not< responsible for Jackson's death - and has written a tell-all book.
In media interviews, Murray has placed the blame on other people, including paramedics who treated the star at the scene and other doctors who treated Jackson.
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Main photo: Conrad Murray (left) [TMZ (screenshot)] and Michael Jackson (right) [Wikimedia Commons]