Michael Jackson’s Doctor Awaits Verdict

Michael Jackson arrives for the verdict at his trial at Santa Barbara County Courthouse on June 13, 2005. (Photo credit: Wire Image/Getty)

Jurors began  deliberations today in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray.

The jurors were bused to court from an undisclosed location, where they are to pick a foreman and begin to deliberate their decision, which must be unanimous.

The stakes are high for Murray as he awaits the decision of his fate. He is facing up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license.

Judge Michael Pastor told the five women and seven men on the jury that in order to acquit Murray of involuntary manslaughter, they must find that Jackson’s death was caused by an accident and not  reckless behavior.

For the jurors to find Murray guilty, they must unanimously determine that he committed a lawful act with criminal negligence or failed to perform a legal duty with criminal negligence.

Attorneys for the prosecution and the defense both delivered impassioned closing arguments in court on Thursday.

Prosecutor David Walgren painted a picture of a Murray as a money-hungry and reckless physician who betrayed Jackson’s trust as a patient by putting his own needs ahead of Jackson’s.

“Michael Jackson trusted Conrad Murray. He trusted him with his life,” Walgren said. “He trusted him with his own individual life and the future lives of his children, trusting that Conrad Murray, as he slept, would care for him so that in the morning he would awake to share a meal with his children.”

Walgren played at the jury’s heartstrings by telling the court that Jackson’s children were left crying in despair and will grow up without their father because of Murray’s “gross criminal negligence.”

“For them, this case doesn’t end today or tomorrow or the next day,” he said. “For Michael’s children, this case will go on forever because they do not have a father. They do not have a father because of the actions of Conrad Murray.”

The defense countered by portraying Murray as a victim of Jackson’s fame who was brought into a situation that was out of his control.

“They want you to convict Dr. Murray for the actions of Michael Jackson,” defense attorney Edward Chernoff said. “They just won’t tell you that.”

“His greatest personality defect is his greatest character strength: He got brought into this situation because he thought he could help,” Chernoff said. “He was wrong — because Dr. Murray had no control over this situation. He was just a little fish in a big, dirty pond.”

Over the six weeks of the trial, jurors listened to 49 witnesses over 22 days of testimony. Murray did not testify. Back in the jury room, jurors have more than 300 exhibits to look over.


Watch the full story on “20/20? tonight at 10 p.m. ET.