More than two years ago, Raleigh and the rest of the nation heard the news that Michael Jackson had died. He was 50 years old and just weeks away from a series of concerts that he and his managers hoped would raise enough money to clear his $400 million debt load. Within hours, the rumor started: Jackson’s private physician had been involved in the singer’s death.
As evidence mounted, the sad life of the singer became clearer. Overwhelmed with debt and crumbling under the stress of preparing for the concert series, one of the most famous people in the world had come to rely on a number of drugs for relief. In particular, he reportedly became dependent on the anesthetic propofol to help him sleep.
The coroner’s report confirmed the cause of death as “acute propofol intoxication,” citing that other drugs were involved as well. The question, though, was who had administered the fatal dose?
The singer’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, became the prime suspect. He was eventually indicted, and the case went to trial about a month ago.
This week, the jury of seven men and five women found the doctor guilty of involuntary manslaughter. They had listened to almost 50 witnesses over 22 days of testimony before deliberating. The panel reached a verdict in two days.
The defendant had argued that Jackson had given himself that last, fatal injection. Witnesses, the defendant among them, told the story of a man desperate to sleep who lived in a medicated fog during the last part of his life. Jackson, witnesses said, begged the defendant for propofol at times.
Prosecutors claimed the defendant had been reckless in his treatment of the star. Not only the propofol, but the entire array of drugs he administered were well outside acceptable medical practices.
Dr. Murray faces four years in prison and loss of his medical license. He will appear for sentencing at the end of November.
Source: News & Observer, “Michael Jackson’s doctor found guilty,” Jennifer Medina, Nov. 8, 2011