While he is expected to actually serve less than half of that, Murray could also be forced to pay compensation to Jackson’s family, the judge ruled, after a prosecution call for the amount to be set at $100 million.
Jackson’s 81-year-old mother Katherine hailed the sentencing, but added: “Four years is not enough for someone’s life.
“Four years won’t bring my son back, but that’s the law so… I thank the judge,” she said, adding: “At least he got the maximum. I thought the judge was very, very fair.”
In reality the medic — convicted of involuntary manslaughter three weeks ago — will spent much less than the four years behind bars, notably due to California’s prison overcrowding,
A spokesman for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, Steve Whitmore, said Murray is expected to be left with “a little less than two years” in county jail.
Judge Pastor, giving a scathing summary of the case against the 58-year-old doctor, said: “It should be made very clear that experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated.
“Dr Murray was intrigued by the prospect and he engaged in this money-for-medicine madness that is simply not going to be tolerated by me,” he added.
Murray was found guilty on November 7 after giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol at the star’s plush Holmby Hills mansion on June 25, 2009. The drug was purportedly to help the singer fight chronic insomnia.
The trial heard evidence that Murray was on the phone with a series of girlfriends at the crucial time Jackson was on his deathbed, that he delayed placing an emergency 911 call, and that he failed to tell paramedics what he had given the star.
Jackson, aged 50 at the time of his death, had hired Murray at a salary of $150,000 a month to look after him as he rehearsed and embarked on a series of “This is It” planned comeback shows in London.
The judge said he agreed that Murray should have to pay restitution to Jackson’s estate and three children, and scheduled a new hearing for January 23 to decide the amount.
The prosecution had asked for Murray to pay $100 million to compensate Jackson’s family for the lost earnings the singer would have made from the London comeback shows.
The demand, while wildly unrealistic, is seen as a way of ensuring that Murray cannot profit from his story and rebuild his life by selling his story in book form or otherwise.
Defense lawyer Michael Flanagan said the amount of compensation set was academic. “Everything over a couple of dollars he’s not going to have the ability to pay anyway,” he said.
Speaking to CNN Tuesday evening, Flanagan said that Murray’s team planned to appeal. He gave no more details.
District Attorney Steve Cooley meanwhile said prosecutors were considering appealing against the judge’s ruling that the sentence be served in County jail, rather than in state prison — where Murray could in theory serve longer.
He said they would wait to see how long the County jail term was set at, before deciding whether to appeal.
Michael Jackson’s Estate, which manages his multi-million-dollar legacy, said in a statement: “The sentence imposed on Conrad Murray by Judge Pastor was appropriate and called for.
In a statement read in court before sentence was passed, Jackson’s family said it was not seeking revenge.
“As Michael’s parents we could never have imagined that we would live to witness his passing. It is simply against the natural order of things,” it said.
“As his brothers and sisters we will never be able to hold, laugh or perform again with our brother Michael. And as his children we will grow up without a father, our best friend, our playmate and our dad.”