The Korea Herald


Jackson doctor convicted in star's 2009 drug death


Published : Nov. 8, 2011 - 08:56

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Michael Jackson's doctor was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter after a trial that painted him as a reckless caregiver who administered a lethal dose of a powerful anesthetic that killed the pop star.

The verdict against Dr. Conrad Murray marked the latest chapter in one of pop culture's most shocking tragedies _ the death of the King of Pop on the eve of the singer's heavily promoted comeback concerts.

Members of Jackson's family wept quietly after the verdict was read, and his mother, Katherine Jackson, later told The Associated Press, ``I feel better now.''

Sister La Toya Jackson told the AP she was overjoyed.

``Michael was looking over us,'' she said on her way out of the courthouse.

Murray sat stone-faced during the verdict and was handcuffed and taken into custody without bail until sentencing on Nov. 29. He appeared calm as officials led him out of the courtroom.

A shriek broke the eerie silence in the packed courtroom when the verdict was read, and the crowd erupted outside the courthouse. Jubilant Jackson fans cheered and sang ``Beat It'' as they held signs that read ``guilty'' and ``killer.'' Passing motorists honked their horns.

The jury deliberated less than nine hours. Murray, 58, faces a sentence of up to four years in prison. He could also lose his medical license.

``Dr. Murray's reckless conduct in this case poses a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public'' if he remains free on bond, Judge Michael E. Pastor said.

District Attorney Steve Cooley said it will be difficult to achieve an appropriate sentence for Murray because of a new state law that allows early prison release for people convicted of nonviolent felonies.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said prosecutors' sympathies went out to the Jackson family who have ``lost not a pop icon but a son and a father.''

Jurors were escorted from the building and not available for comment after the verdict was read.

It was unclear whether the jury determined that Murray had administered the fatal dose of propofol while deciding he was responsible for the death of Jackson.

Prosecutors had said Murray violated at least 17 separate standards of care, a number of which could have resulted in death.

Murray's attorneys left the courtroom without commenting.

In Las Vegas, a former Murray patient and current friend, Donna DiGiacomo, sobbed and said she thought the jury was under ``overwhelming pressure to convict.''

Jackson died on June 25, 2009. The complete story of his death finally emerged during the six-week trial. It was the tale of a tormented genius on the brink of what might have been his greatest triumph with one impediment standing in his way _ extreme insomnia.

Testimony came from medical experts, household employees and Murray's former girlfriends, among others.

The most shocking moments, however, came when prosecutors displayed a large picture of Jackson's gaunt, lifeless body on a hospital gurney and played the sound of his drugged, slurred voice, as recorded by Murray just weeks before the singer's death.

Jackson talked about plans for a children's hospital and his hope of cementing a legacy larger than that of Elvis Presley or The Beatles.

``We have to be phenomenal,'' he said about his ``This Is It'' concerts in London. ``When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, `I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world.'''

Prosecutors portrayed Murray as an incompetent doctor who used the anesthetic propofol without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left Jackson abandoned as he lay dying.

Murray's lawyers sought to show the doctor was a medical angel of mercy, with former patients vouching for his skills. Murray told police from the outset that he gave Jackson propofol and other sedatives as the star struggled for sleep to prepare for his shows. But the doctor said he administered only a small dose on the day Jackson died.

Lawyers for Murray and a defense expert blamed Jackson for his own death, saying the singer gave himself the fatal dose of propofol while Murray wasn't watching. A prosecution expert said that theory was crazy.

Murray told police he had formed a close friendship with Jackson, never meant to harm him and couldn't explain why he died.

The circumstances of Jackson's death at the age of 50 were as bizarre as any chapter in the superstar's sensational life story.

Jackson was found not breathing in his own bed in his rented mansion after being dosed intravenously with propofol, a drug normally administered in hospitals during surgery.

The coroner ruled the case a homicide and the blame would fall to the last person who had seen Jackson alive _ Murray, who had been hired to care for the singer as the comeback concerts neared.

Craving sleep, Jackson had searched for a doctor who would give him the intravenous anesthetic that Jackson called his ``milk'' and believed to be his salvation. Other medical professionals turned him down, according to trial testimony.

Murray gave up his practices in Houston and Las Vegas and agreed to travel with Jackson and work as his personal physician indefinitely.

For six weeks, as Jackson undertook strenuous rehearsals, Murray infused him with propofol every night, the doctor told police. He later tried to wean Jackson from the drug because he feared he was becoming addicted.

Jackson planned to pay Murray $150,000 a month for an extended tour in Europe. In the end, the doctor was never paid a penny because Jackson died before signing the contract.

During the last 24 hours of his life, Jackson sang and danced at a spirited rehearsal, reveling in the adulation of fans who greeted him outside. Then came a night of horror, chasing sleep _ the most elusive treasure the millionaire entertainer could not buy.

Testimony showed Murray gave Jackson intravenous doses that night of the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam. Jackson also took a Valium pill. But nothing seemed to bring sleep.

Finally, Murray told police, he gave the singer a small dose of propofol _ 25 milligrams _ that seemed to put him to sleep. The doctor said he felt it was safe to leave his patient's bedside for a few minutes, but Jackson was not breathing when he returned.

Witnesses said he was most likely dead at that point.

What happened next was a matter of dispute during the trial. Security and household staff described Murray as panicked, never calling emergency services but trying to give Jackson CPR on his bed instead of the firm floor.

A guard said Murray was concerned with packing up and hiding medicine bottles and IV equipment before telling him to call emergency services. Prosecutors said Murray was distracted while Jackson was sedated, citing Murray's cell phone records to show he made numerous calls.

Authorities never accused Murray of intending to kill the star, and it took eight months for them to file the involuntary manslaughter charge against him. It was the lowest possible felony charge involving a homicide.

There was no law against administering propofol or the other sedatives. But prosecution expert witnesses said Murray was acting well below the standard of care required of a physician.

They said using propofol in a home setting without lifesaving equipment on hand was an egregious deviation from that standard. They called it gross negligence, the legal basis for an involuntary manslaughter charge.



마이클 잭슨 주치의.. 결국 과실치사 유죄

미국 로스앤젤레스 형사법원 배심원단 은 7일 (현지시간) 과실치사 혐의로 기소된 팝스타 마이클 잭슨의 주치의 콘래드 머레이(58) 박사에게 유죄를 평결했다.

남성 7명, 여성 5명으로 구성된 배심원단은 이틀 동안 8시간30분에 걸친 숙의 끝에 머레이 박사가 잭슨의 사망에 책임이 있다는 검찰의 기소가 타당하다는 결론을 내렸다고 밝혔다.

최고 형량이 징역 4년에 이르는 과실치사 혐의에 대해 유죄 평결이 내려지면서 머레이 박사는 즉각 구치소에 수감됐다. 그의 의사 면허도 자동으로 정지됐다.

형량을 결정하는 선고 공판은 오는 12월29일 열린다.

굳은 표정으로 앉아 있던 머레이 박사는 평결이 발표되자 별다른 반응을 보이지 않았다. 수갑을 차고 퇴정하는 순간에도 아무런 표정 변화가 없었다.

담당 판사는 형사소송법에 따라 만장일치로 유죄가 결정된 지를 확인하려고 13 명의 배심원에게 일일이 '유죄냐'고 물었고 배심원들은 한결같이 '그렇다'고 대답했다.

지난 9월27일부터 6주 동안 이어지면서 '팝의 황제'을 잃은 잭슨의 팬뿐 아니라 전 세계의 이목을 사로잡았던 재판은 이로써 머레이 박사에 대한 형량 선고만 남긴 채 일단락됐다.

2009년 6월25일 복귀 공연을 준비하던 잭슨이 자택에서 숨진 뒤 미국 검찰은 불면증을 앓던 잭슨에게 강력한 마취제인 프로포폴을 과다하게 처방, 주사해 사망에 이르게 했다는 이유로 머레이 박사를 과실치사 혐의로 기소했다.

검찰은 머레이 박사가 한 달에 15만 달러라는 엄청난 보수를 받으면서도 잭슨의 불면증 때문에 치명적인 약물을 투여하고도 중요한 순간에 잭슨을 돌보지 않아 결과적으로 그를 죽음으로 몰고 갔다는 주장을 폈다.

검찰은 머레이 박사가 의사로서 의무를 다하지 않았고, 환자의 상태를 모니터할 수 있는 적절한 장비조차 갖추지 않아 잭슨이 사망했다고 공박했다.

반면 그의 변호인단은 잭슨이 약물 중독 상태에서 주치의 머레이 박사의 처방없이 스스로 추가 약물을 복용했기 때문에 사망에 이르렀다고 반박해왔다.

변호인단은 불면증에 시달린 잭슨이 '(수면제 효과가 있는) 약을 달라'고 머레이 박사에게 애원했으며 이미 진통제 등 다른 약물에 중독된 상태였고 의사가 자리를 비운 사이 직접 과도한 분량의 프로포폴을 투여해 사망했다는 반론을 내놓았다.

검찰과 변호인단이 공방을 주고받는 과정에서 잭슨의 알려지지 않은 이면이 드러나기도 했다.

약물에 취한 채 복귀 공연을 멋지게 치러내겠다고 다짐하는 잭슨의 전화 목소리와 바짝 야윈 창백한 시신이 공개되기도 했다.

또 유난히 어린이를 좋아했던 잭슨이 "내겐 어린 시절이 없었기 때문에 어린이들을 사랑한다"면서 불우한 어린 시절에 대한 아쉬움을 털어놓은 사실도 밝혀졌다.

잭슨이 인형을 좋아해서 침대엔 늘 인형을 놓아두었다는 애틋한 사연도 공개됐다 .

재판이 열릴 때마다 운집하던 잭슨 팬들은 이날도 법원 앞 거리를 가득 메우고 배심원단의 유죄 평결이 내려지자 환호성을 울렸다.

이들은 오전 내내 '머레이는 살인자', '유죄! 유죄!' 등의 구호를 적은 피켓을 흔들거나 잭슨의 노래를 합창하며 배심원단의 평결을 기다렸다.

법정에는 잭슨의 아버지 조와 어머니 캐서린, 형 저메인, 누나 라토야 등 가족 들이 방청석에서 평결 장면을 지켜봤다.

검찰은 "배심원들이 머레이 박사에 대한 유죄 평결에 내려줘 기쁘다"면서 "팝스타가 아니라 세 자녀의 아버지를 죽음에 이르게 한 죄인에게 심판을 내린 것"이라고 밝혔다.

머레이 박사의 변호인단은 아무런 언급 없이 법원을 떠났다.