LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to sentence Michael Jackson’s former doctor to the maximum four years in prison for his involuntary manslaughter conviction in the singer’s 2009 death.
In a separate court filing, defense attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray, 58, sought to convince Los Angeles trial judge Michael Pastor to sentence their client to probation.
The dueling legal papers come in advance of a hearing on Tuesday at which Pastor will issue his sentence for Murray, who is currently in jail awaiting that court date.
Jackson was found lifeless at his mansion on June 25, 2009, about three weeks before he was due to begin a series of comeback concerts in London.
Murray was at the singer’s house and had given him the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid, which medical examiners said was the chief cause of his death.
Doctors testified at the trial that propofol, which is often used for surgery, should never be given in a home setting without adequate staffing and equipment.
In seeking to justify their request for a maximum prison sentence of four years for Murray, prosecutors David Walgren and Deborah Brazil argued that the doctor took advantage of Jackson’s trust in him, all while being under salary for $150,000 a month.
“Instead of utilizing his medical knowledge and training to provide Mr. Jackson with proper medical care, the defendant acted as an employee and as a drug dealer and completely corrupted the trust necessary in a proper doctor-patient relationship,” prosecutors stated.
Defense attorneys said in their court papers that Murray’s “background and character” warrant a sentence of probation, not prison time. They also cited his history of treating poor patients regardless of their ability to pay.
“Dr. Murray has been described as a changed, grief-stricken man, who walks around under a pail of sadness since the loss of his patient, Mr. Jackson,” defense lawyers stated.
Legal experts have said that, because of overcrowding in California prisons, Murray may spend as little as a few months behind bars regardless of what he receives as a sentence.
California adopted a new law in October that sends low-risk prison inmates to county jails, and in turn officials who run Los Angeles county jails have been releasing inmates early because of a lack of space.
“It will be very difficult to achieve an appropriate sentence of incarceration for Dr. Conrad Murray,” Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, whose office prosecuted the case, told reporters earlier this month.
In addition, an attorney for Jackson’s estate said in a court filing that the singer would have earned $100 million had he completed all 50 shows at London’s O2 arena that he was scheduled to perform before his death.
Murray has been in jail since November 7 awaiting his sentencing hearing, due to a decision by Pastor to not allow him to remain free until that upcoming hearing.
That decision was made on the same day that a Los Angeles found Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter after a six-week trial.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis