, LOS ANGELES, Nov 8 – Fans rejoiced after Michael Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray was found guilty over the King of Pop’s 2009 death, closing a trial that provided a troubling look at the star’s demise.
Crowds of supporters outside erupted as the verdict was announced on Monday, while minutes later judge Michael Pastor ordered the 58-year-old medic handcuffed and remanded in custody, pending sentencing later this month.
Jackson’s mother Katherine cried and was hugged by one of his brothers after the jury convicted Murray of involuntary manslaughter for giving him an overdose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009.
Murray admitted to giving Jackson a small amount of propofol to help him sleep, but not the massive amount of the drug — which is normally only used as an in-hospital anesthetic — was found in his body.
“Justice was served,” his brother Jermaine said as he and the rest of the family braved huge crowds to leave the building, while sister Rebbie added: “Nothing will bring him back, but I’m happy (Murray) was found guilty.”
“VICTORY!!!!!!” tweeted La Toya. “We’re Most Proud of The WALGREN team, U did a EXCELLENT JOB N UR quest 2 seek justice 4 Michael & my family,” she added, referring to prosecutor David Walgren.
A grim-faced Murray gave no reaction when the verdict was announced and judge Pastor ordered him held pending a sentencing hearing on November 29. The Los Angeles Times later reported that Murray had been placed on suicide watch.
Murray faces up to four years in jail for his role in Jackson’s death, but there is speculation he could end up serving his sentence with an electronic tag because of California’s chronic jail overcrowding.
He could also be banned from practicing medicine — California has already suspended his medical license, while Nevada and Texas said they would consider similar action once the trial was over.
His defense lawyer Ed Chernoff declined to comment on whether Murray will appeal against the criminal conviction.
LA District Attorney Steve Cooley praised his deputy David Walgren, who was widely praised for his masterful prosecution of the case, against a defense which some observers thought ended the trial in tatters.
“They put together a compelling case based upon competent evidence. Their presentation of the evidence in the court was superb,” Cooley said.
Walgren himself added: “Our sympathies go out to the Jackson family at this time, for the loss that they have suffered. Not a pop icon but a son and a brother. That’s most important to keep in mind today,” he told reporters.
Outside the court vuvuzelas blared and fans danced to the thudding groove of “Beat It” after the verdict was handed down.
LA local Lawrence Kolb was gathered with others around an iPad outside the courthouse, watching the verdict on live television. “Everyone just screamed,” he said. “Everyone was jubilant.”
The trial had aired troubling new details about the pop star’s death, including a picture of his dead body on a hospital gurney, an audio-recording of an apparently heavily-drugged Jackson slurring his words weeks before his death, and testimony about the panicked moments after he stopped breathing.
In his closing arguments last week, Walgren said Murray caused the star’s death through negligence and greed, depriving Jackson’s children of their father and the world of a “genius.”
The defense, meanwhile, argued that Jackson was a desperate drug addict who caused his own death by taking more medicines while Murray was out of the room at the star’s rented mansion in Los Angeles.
Chernoff claimed that Murray was “a little fish in a big dirty pond,” alleging that key witnesses conspired to agree on a story after Jackson died.
Shortly before the verdict was announced, Jackson’s former dermatologist broke his silence to deny the singer was a drug addict or that he had given him massive doses of painkillers in the months before his death.
“Michael was not a drug addict… Michael Jackson did not have a problem with painkillers,” said Dr Arnold Klein, whose office Jackson visited several times a week in the months before his death.
Back at the courthouse, La Toya Jackson thanked fans who had gathered over the last six weeks, adding that her brother loved them — and was watching over the trial.
“He was in that courtroom and that’s why victory was served,” she said.