Jury Finds Dr. Murray Guilty In Pop Star's Death
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
This morning, Dr. Conrad Murray is in a jail here in Los Angeles. Michael Jackson's personal physician was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter yesterday. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has been following the trial and has this report.
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: The downtown courtroom was packed as those present waited as the clerk of the court read the jury's verdict.
SAMMI BENSON: We, the jury in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Conrad Robert Murray, guilty of the crime of involuntary manslaughter, in violation of penal code section 192, subsection B.
BATES: Dr. Murray sat stone-faced between his glum lawyers as Judge Michael Pastor polled the jurors to make sure their decision was unanimous, as the law demanded.
JUDGE MICHAEL PASTOR: Is this your individual and personal verdict, juror 1?
JUROR #1: Yes, sir.
PASTOR: Juror 2?
JUROR #2: Yes, sir.
BATES: Throughout the trial, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren kept telling jurors Dr. Murray's gross negligence was a central contributing factor to the pop icon's death. Walgren said administering the powerful anesthetic propofol in a home setting was reckless and inexcusable - especially since, Walgren said, Dr. Murray had none of the proper backup in case Jackson stopped breathing, a common propofol side-effect.
DAVID WALGREN: No suction apparatus, no crash cart with the necessary drugs, no automatic defibrillator, none of the airway equipment one would need and require in order to safely manage an emergency as a result of propofol.
BATES: Former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson teaches criminal law at Loyola Law School, and says Walgren gave the jury the right instructions to help them as they sifted through some of the trial's complicated evidence.
LAURIE LEVENSON: The prosecutor hit home on, we're never going to have the answers to all of the questions in this case. But you took an oath to decide the case on the law, and all the law requires is that you find that the doctor acted below that standard of care.
BATES: Dr. Murray's lawyers tried hard, but they were hobbled by his admission that he'd infused Jackson with propofol for several weeks before the singer died. Lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff told jurors the doctor was treading a thin line as he tried to please his famous patient and keep him calm.
ED CHERNOFF: Dr. Murray - his greatest personality defect is his greatest character strength.
BATES: The doctor insisted he used small amounts of propofol to help end an increasingly desperate Jackson's insomnia - a use the drug isn't approved for. But that was countered with evidence that he'd ordered vats of the stuff delivered to the apartment he shared with his girlfriend - and a parade of doctors, including a key witness for the defense, who all said they'd never use propofol at home.
In the end, the jury decided the evidence was persuasive. After about nine hours, jurors returned their verdict. Crowds outside the courtroom were ecstatic.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
BATES: Dr. Murray was denied bail, and was remanded into custody immediately. He now sits in a private cell until he's sentenced on the 29th. He could face up to four years in prison. His attorneys already have said they plan to appeal.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Peace for everyone.
BATES: Outside the courthouse, the Jackson family walked through cheering crowds to return home, so they could break the news to Michael Jackson's children Prince, Paris and Blanket.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Michael Jackson, rest in peace now.
BATES: Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.