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Shrieks and tears as Jacko's doctor faces years behind bars

THE single word, "Guilty," brought no reaction from the doctor convicted of supplying the King of Pop with the drug he craved for sleep.

There was a muffled shriek in the gallery of the packed courtroom and tears from Michael Jackson's family, and then with the snap of handcuffs, another chapter in the bizarre saga surrounding Jackson's life came to a close, and the man who once envisioned a glamourous career as the music icon's personal physician was led from the courtroom. Dr. Conrad Murray was going to jail for involuntary manslaughter, facing up to four years behind bars

In a few minutes, his life had been shattered.



It was a precipitous fall for a man who told his patients he had been given "a once in a lifetime opportunity" for which he was giving up his practice.

At 58, he planned to devote himself to Jackson, who would escort him into a world of glamour and celebrity. All of that ended on June 25, 2009, in a Holmby Hills mansion where he gave his difficult patient what he wanted -- an operating room anaesthetic that Jackson called his "milk".

Jurors heard hours of testimony about propofol, the drug that killed Jackson, and they listened while the defence blamed the singer for his own death, suggesting it was he who injected the fatal dose.

Their deliberations were short, less than nine hours over two days, presided over by the foreman, a 45-year-old management consultant who had been a classical musician.

Harsh

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor was harsh in his comments about Murray.

"This is a crime where the end result (was) the death of a human being," the judge said. "Dr. Murray's reckless conduct in this case poses a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public" if he remains free on bond.

He then ordered Murray be taken into immediate custody and held without bail pending sentencing on November 29.

Defence lawyer Ed Chernoff said the verdict was a disappointment and would be appealed. Asked how Murray took the verdict, Chernoff said, "he's a pretty strong guy."

Regarding Murray's future, he said, "the keys to his handcuffs belong to the judge. We certainly would like to do anything we can to keep him from going to prison."

Despite six weeks of testimony and hundreds of pieces of evidence, precisely what happened in Jackson's bedroom in the hours before his death remains unknown. Murray offered an account to police two days after Jackson's death, but prosecutors said the doctor's version wasn't consistent with the amounts of propofol found in Jackson's system.

Murray's departure from the courtroom in handcuffs was an abrupt end to the freedom he had kept since being charged with Jackson's death nearly 21 months ago. After Murray changed into prison garb, his elegant suit was returned to his mother.

Confident

The other mother in the courtroom, Katherine Jackson, walked away slowly on the arm of her son, Randy.

"I feel better now," she said quietly and told a reporter that she had been confident of the outcome. Her daughter, La Toya, said she was overcome with joy and felt her brother's presence. "Michael was looking over us," she said.

Yesterday's verdict was greeted with cheers outside the downtown courthouse where Murray was convicted. His fans sang the Jackson hit "Beat It" and cheered his parents and siblings as they left court.

The singer left behind three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket. The eldest children witnessed Murray's frantic efforts to revive their father. Deputy District Attorney David Walgren repeatedly told jurors in closing arguments that Murray's actions were the reason the children would grow up without their father.

After the verdict, Walgren extended his sympathies to the Jackson family, who "lost not a pop icon, but a son, a brother and a father."


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