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D-Day for Michael Jackson doctor

2011-11-29 10:51
conrad murray

Los Angeles - Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray faces up to four years in jail when he is sentenced on Tuesday, after being convicted over the King of Pop's 2009 death earlier this month.

The star's parents and several of his siblings are expected to return for the sentencing hearing in the Los Angeles courtroom where Murray was found guilty and remanded in custody on November 7, after a six-week trial.

Prosecutors want Murray to get the maximum jail term and be ordered to compensate the Jackson family for the singer's loss of earnings, estimated at $100m for the comeback shows he was preparing when he died.

But Ed Chernoff, the lawyer for the 58-year-old doctor, asked in submissions to court last week for his client to be given parole and community service, underlining that he will likely never practice medicine again.

Final days

Murray's mother Milta Rush also pleaded with judge Michael Pastor for leniency. "I am (...) scared and worried sick about him being incarcerated (...) He is saddened and remorseful about the death of his friend Michael Jackson.

"I do believe he is certainly learning the toughest lesson of his life," she wrote, in a letter published by celebrity website TMZ on Monday.

Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter three weeks ago for giving Jackson an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol on June 25 2009 at the star's plush Holmby Hills mansion. The drug was purportedly to help the singer fight chronic insomnia.

Jackson, aged 50 at the time of his death, had hired Murray at a salary of $150 000 a month to look after him as he rehearsed and embarked on a series of planned comeback shows in London.

During the trial, the court heard a two-hour police interview with Murray in which he recounted the star's final days and hours, and claimed he found Jackson lifeless after leaving his bedside for only two minutes.

But it also heard evidence that Murray was on the phone with a series of girlfriends at the crucial time Jackson was on his deathbed, and that he delayed calling 911 and failed to tell paramedics what he had given the star.

A seven-man, five-woman jury took barely a day to reach a guilty verdict. Minutes after the verdict was read out, Murray was ignominiously handcuffed as judge Michael Pastor remanded him in custody pending sentencing.

'Blame on everyone else'

Murray chose not to testify himself during the trial - experts suggested he would have been ripped to pieces by prosecutor David Walgren, who had already comprehensively dismantled the defence case.

But days after his conviction it emerged that he had given media interviews during the closing weeks of the trial for a documentary which was screened in the United States and Britain on which he collaborated.

That could weigh against him with judge Pastor, and Walgren said the TV interviews back up his assertion that Murray "displayed a complete lack of remorse for causing Michael Jackson's death".

"Even worse than failing to accept even the slightest level of responsibility, the defendant has placed blame on everyone else, including the one person no longer here to defend himself, Michael Jackson," he wrote.

Murray's mother, who was in court during the trial, said he felt for Jackson's mother Katherine. "I sympathise with Mrs Jackson as a mother; I feel her pain for having lost her son," she wrote.

"I really wanted to approach her personally and tell her I am sorry for the loss of her son but I was unsure if she would be receptive, and I did not want to take the chance of violating the courts rules. I am sorry for her loss."

Tuesday's hearing starts at 08:30 (18:30 SA time).

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