Criminal Defense Blog

The King of Pop Couldn’t Sleep

I lay awake last night thinking of the last days of Michael Jackson, who himself lay awake unable to sleep relying on heavily potent narcotics, including the anesthetic, propofol, which he called “milk.”

I think the jury had plenty of evidence to support their guilty verdict against Conrad Murray for involuntary manslaughter. Under the law, Dr. Murray was guilty of manslaughter if he had a legal duty to Michael Jackson, failed to carry out that legal duty, and his failure to do was “criminally negligent” and caused Michael Jackson’s death. Of course, criminal negligence involves more than an ordinary mistake or inattention. It requires acting in a manner that creates a high risk of serious injury or death.

Conrad Murray unmistakably had a duty of care to Michael Jackson. As Jackson’s physician, he held his life in his hands. By misusing anesthesia as a sleeping aid, prescribing it when he was not even an anesthesiologist, and administering it in a house where there was no equipment to use to resuscitate, Dr. Murray disregarded medical protocols and threw safety to the wind. Maybe worst of all is that he did it for the money, cravenly giving in to the demands of a drug addict and disgracing the medical profession in the process.

What will Dr. Murray’s sentence be? Under California law, the sentence for involuntary manslaughter is 2, 3, or 4 years in prison. The prosecution will point to any aggravating factors and argue for the maximum of 4 years, and the defense will point to mitigating factors such as the defendant’s clean criminal record and argue for the minimum. Dr. Murray might be eligible for probation, the conditional release to the community. But all eyes are on Judge Pastor’s courtroom. Unfortunately for Conrad Murray, probation is unlikely for the killer of the king of pop.

The opinions and information in this blog are not intended to be legal advice, and are not a substitute for obtaining advice from a qualified attorney about your particular matter.