Michael Jackson's Personal Physician Found Guilty

Robert Siegel talks with NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates about Monday's verdict in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray. Michael Jackson's personal physician was found guilty.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

To Los Angeles now and a verdict in the trial of the personal physician to the late king of pop.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We, the jury in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Conrad Robert Murray, guilty of the crime of involuntary manslaughter.

SIEGEL: The jury took less than two days to convict Dr. Conrad Murray. They rejected the argument that Michael Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of a powerful anesthetic. Murray could spend up to four years in prison. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates is with us. Hi, Karen.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: And involuntary manslaughter was the charge in this case. What did the prosecution have to prove to get that guilty verdict from the jury?

BATES: Basically, what the prosecution had to prove was that Dr. Murray was the principal cause in contributing to Jackson's death, that he'd been criminally negligent in administering propofol, which as you noted is a very powerful anesthetic agent that has to be watched really carefully. That he left the room after it had been administered, and that he'd spent sometime on the phone maybe calling or texting. And the last thing was that he waited about 20 minutes before he called 911. And prosecutor David Walgren said those are just unforgivable things.

SIEGEL: Well, obviously, the jury didn't buy Dr. Murray's defense, but what was it? How did he answer those charges?

BATES: Well, part of it was that Dr. Murray told investigators before that he thought that he would be able to wean Jackson off of propofol by gradually reducing it. And then they sort of changed it to, well, you know, he'd been trying to sleep with all these other things and they weren't working and he was advocating vigorously that he'd be given what he called his milk. Sometimes propofol is called milk of amnesia because it's white and milky and after it's administered, lots of times, when people come out from under it, they don't remember that they've had any surgery. But that the last thing for them was that they said it's entirely possible that Jackson could have swallowed some sedatives. And when the sedatives wore off, actually awakened and given himself the last dose of propofol.

SIEGEL: Now, as we've heard, Dr. Murray could face four to seven years in prison. When will he be sentenced and what happens to his medical license?

BATES: His medical license has already been yanked in California. It's possible that because he is now a convicted felon, it could also be yanked in the other two states in which he holds them, which are Texas and Nevada. But that's not up to the court. That's up to the individual state medical boards. He will be sentenced on the 29th of November and sentencing could go all the way from four years, which is, as I understand it, the maximum for the first count of involuntary manslaughter to no jail time, to...

SIEGEL: A probation.

BATES: ...probation with an ankle bracelet under house arrest.

SIEGEL: Just one other question, Karen, the relationship between Jackson and Dr. Murray. He was his personal and very highly paid physician, correct?

BATES: Yes. $150,000 each month.

SIEGEL: A month.

BATES: A month.

SIEGEL: And Michael Jackson, during that time, was the only patient he was treating?

BATES: That's correct.

SIEGEL: And as we've said, the news, once again, is that he's been convicted of involuntary manslaughter. That verdict reached today by a California jury. Karen Grigsby Bates, thanks.

BATES: You're welcome.

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