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The jury has spoken: Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson on Monday.
According to reports, the tension in the courtroom was palpable this afternoon as the court clerk handed down the verdict, which was met with a cheer from the Jackson supporters gathered outside the Los Angeles court building. Murray himself remained rigid and stone-faced as the verdict was announced. Jackson's parents and siblings were present for the announcement of the verdict, which was decided by the seven-man, five-woman jury after less than ten hours of deliberation.
"Michael's spirit will be with us in the court room and he will make sure the right verdict is made," Michael sister La Toya tweeted an hour before arriving in court. Over the course of Murray's six-week trial, the jury listened to 49 witnesses and were asked to examine 300 pieces of evidence. The prosecution made the case that Murray was an incompetent physician whose treatment of Jackson violated medical ethics. Lawyers argued that giving Jackson the strong anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid was an irresponsible decision that led directly to Jackson's death. They also cited witness testimony that Murray spent time covering up the crime scene before attempting to actually save his patient's life.
"Conrad Murray chose not to call 911 because he had other things on his mind -- protecting Conrad Murray," Los Angeles Distract Attorney David Walgren said in his closing argument on Thursday. "He knew of his guilt and he was intentionally giving false and misleading statements."
On the other side, the defense presented the case that Jackson could have given himself the lethal dose of propofol that propelled him into cardiac arrest. They argued that there was no clear evidence that Murray had administered the medicine, and presented testimony from other patients who said that Dr. Murray was an excellent physician. Furthermore, they said the only reason Dr. Murray was on trial was that people wanted to blame someone for the untimely death of a beloved -- but notoriously unstable -- celebrity.
"They're asking you to convict Conrad Murray for the actions of Michael Jackson," defense attorney Ed Chernoff argued. "We've been dancing around it for two years. If it were anybody (other) than Michael Jackson, would this doctor be here today?... This isn't reality TV, this is reality, and the decisions you make will affect real human beings and the people who love them."
The trial, attended by Jackson's well-known parents and siblings, was emotionally wrenching at times. Early in the trial, the jurors were shown a photograph of Jackson's corpse. Later, two of Jackson's staff members testified that Jackson's young children watched helplessly as their father passed away.
"Paris was on the ground, balled up and crying," said Jackson's bodyguard Faheem Muhammad. "Prince had a really shocked, just slowly crying kind of look."
Cardiologist Murray now faces up to four years in prison, which he's unlikely to serve in full, given California's current prison overcrowding. However, he will almost certainly lose his medical license following the conviction. And hopefully, the Jackson family can now find some closure.