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My Thoughts On The Conrad Murray Verdict

Okay...you can't have a criminal law blog and not comment on the recent guilty verdict in the involuntary manslaughter case of Dr. Conrad Murray.

For those of you who are not familiar with this case, Dr. Conrad Murray was Michael Jackson's private doctor who treated the late pop star for insomnia using lethal drugs. Dr. Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter, which does not really exist in the State of Florida. But under California law, involuntary manslaughter is essentially a negligent homicide.

In Florida, manslaughter (which does not have degrees of voluntary or involuntary) is a homicide caused by one's recklessness or culpable negligence. It is a homicide that does not require proof of intent to kill, just proof of a dangerous or negligent act that resulted in the victim's death.

I was not surprised when Dr. Murray was found guilty. The evidence was not in his favor and the State of California did not have to prove more than the fact that Michael Jackson was dead and that Dr. Murray killed him by injecting him with a lethal dose of Propofol.

The defense tried hard to exploit weaknesses in the State's case. Defense experts testified that Michael Jackson easily could have injected himself with the fatal dose of the drug. However, the defense forgot one very important thing: the simple fact alone that Michael Jackson was left in a room, without medical supervision, with the ability to self-inject Propofol would constitute negligence, thereby helping the State to prove involuntary manslaughter.

Sentencing will occur in a few weeks. While Dr. Murray was taken into custody right after the reading of the verdict, he faces only a maximum of 4 years in state prison. The judge could, but very likely won't, sentence him to probation.

Considering this is a high-profile case, the judge will very likely give Dr. Murray a 4-year sentence.