Michael Jackson's Doctor Conrad Murray Will Likely Be Released in Two Years Due to New Law

Michael Jackson's doctor was sentenced today in Los Angeles.

November 29, 2011, 10:18 AM

LOS ANGELES Nov. 29, 2011— -- Dr. Conrad Murray, the man convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, will likely serve only half of his four-year jail sentence due to a recent change in California law that allows non-violent felony offenders to serve their time in county jail instead of state prison.

Officials from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said the cardiologist, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, would more than likely be released in two years due to factors such as jail overcrowding.

District Attorney Steve Cooley said he was considering asking Judge Michael Pastor to modify the sentence so Murray's crime could be reclassified as a serious felony, which would then send Murray into the state prison system, where he would serve the entire four years of his sentence.

"This is going to be a real test of our criminal justice system to see if it's meaningful at all," Cooley said at a news conference after the sentencing.

Judge Pastor acknowledged he had no control of how much of the four year sentence he imposed the doctor would actually serve, saying it was out of his hands due to California law.

Pastor did, however, rip into Murray, calling his treatment of Jackson a "cycle of horrible medicine" and "medicine madness."

Murray, 58, treated Jackson like a "medical experiment," the judge said, which factored into his decision to hand down the maximum sentence.

"Four years is not enough for someone's life," Katherine Jackson, the singer's mother, said after sentencing. "It won't bring him back, but at least he got the maximum."

Jermaine Jackson said he would miss playing music with his brother Michael and being a family.

"One hundred years is not enough," he said.

Along with Jermaine, Katherine, siblings LaToya, Tito, Rebbie and Randy were present at today's sentencing, but did not speak, instead allowing family friend and attorney Brian Panish to read a statement on behalf of Jackson's three children and family.

In the statement, Jackson's children told the Los Angeles court that they lost their "father, best friend, and playmate" when the singer died, but stressed they were not seeking "revenge".

The statement asked the judge to "impose a sentence that reminds physicians they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder."

Michael Jackson's Doctor Sentenced to Four Years

"As Michael's parents, we never imagined we would live to witness his passing," Panish read, on behalf of the singer's parents Katherine and Joe Jackson. "There is no way to describe the loss of our beloved brother, son, father and friend."

The judge's tone grew sterner as he gave a scathing review of Murray's actions while treating Jackson, saying the doctor "violated his sworn oath for money, fame, prestige." He said there was a "recurring, continuous pattern of deceit, lies," and cited a "longstanding failure of character" by Murray.

Murray "unquestionably violated the trust and confidence of his patient," Pastor said.

The judge also mentioned the tape Murray made of a drugged-up Michael Jackson who was slurring his words so badly he could barely be understood and suggested that Murray was contemplating a new tactic if he needed one at a later date.

"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy. It was designed to record his patientsurreptitiously at that patient's most vulnerable point," Pastor said.

The judge called the recording a "horrific violation of trust," and asked, "What value would be placed on that tape recording if it were to be released?"

Prosecutor David Walgren read from a statement Katherine Jackson made shortly after her son's death, telling of how the family's world "collapsed" after Jackson died.

Walgren described how Jackson's daughter Paris was crying at the hospital.

"I want to go with you," she told her father after he had passed.

"He trusted he would be cared for by Conrad Murray so he would see another day," Walgren said.

He mentioned that Jackson had plans to go into filmmaking with his children, a passion they had recently developed.

Murray's defense attorney pleaded with Pastor to consider the cardiologist's humble beginnings and good deeds, stressing that this was an unfortunate, tragic chapter in the doctor's life.

"Whether he's a barista or a greeter at Walmart, he's still going to be the man who killed Michael Jackson," defense lawyer Ed Chernoff said.

Chernoff also put some of the blame on Jackson. "Michael Jackson was a drug seeker... He was a powerful, famous and wealthy individual."

Murray sat expressionless throughout the proceeding, only turning once to mouth "I love you" to his girlfriend after the sentence was handed down. As he exited the court room, Murray blew his girlfriend Nicole Alvarez a kiss.

The cardiologist will be housed in a single cell at the Los Angeles County Jail and will be kept away from other prisoners, sheriff's spokesperson Nicole Nishida told The Associated Press.

Pastor began the proceeding by rejecting a motion by Murray's legal team that cameras be evicted from the courtroom during his sentencing.

The district attorney asked for the maximum sentence of four years as well as $100 million -- the singer's projected earnings from the 50-show "This Is It" tour -- payable to the Jackson estate. The prosecution also asked Murray to pay $1.8 million in costs associated with Jackson's memorial service and funeral.

The judge set a Jan. 23 date for determining restitution, citing the high amount.

Lisa Franklin, who was an alternate juror, told "Good Morning America" that it was clear Murray did not have the necessary safeguards in place when things went wrong.

"The three biggest things for us were the 911 call, not calling 911. That was a big issue, and not having the medical equipment in the room to put somebody under sedation and leaving the room," Franklin said.

Before the sentencing, Brain Oxman, the Jackson family attorney, said the clan has experienced a "whole mixture of terrible emotions." Originally, the family, including matriarch Katherine Jackson, wanted the book thrown at Murray. Now, post-conviction, Katherine and daughter La Toya are saying, "It doesn't change anything," Oxman said.

"He's been serving his sentence since June 25, and it's more powerful than anything the judge can do to him," said Oxman, who first met Murray in UCLA's emergency room, where doctors tried but failed to revive Jackson. "I saw a man whose life completely flashed before him. I don't see him as a cold, calculating killer. He did some horribly dumb things."

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