LOS ANGELES (AP) - Michael Jackson’s doctor will face the singer’s distraught family and ardent fans one more time when he returns to court for sentencing in the death of the superstar from an overdose of an operating-room anesthetic he was receiving to battle insomnia.
Dr. Conrad Murray’s sentencing Tuesday for involuntary manslaughter is the final step in the criminal case launched within days of Jackson’s unexpected death in June 2009.
Prosecutors want a judge to sentence the 58-year-old Murray to the maximum four-year prison term. Defense attorneys counter that Murray already faces a lifetime of shame and diminished opportunities and should receive probation.
How long Murray might remain behind bars depends on the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which would base the decision on good behavior and other factors.
Even without overcrowding and a new state law that will send Murray to county jail rather than prison, a four-year sentence could be cut in half by good behavior.
It remained unclear Monday whether Jackson’s family will speak during the sentencing hearing. His mother Katherine and several siblings routinely attended the six-week trial that ended with the conviction on Nov. 7.
Prosecutors portrayed Murray as an incompetent doctor who administered propofol _ an extremely potent anesthetic normally used during surgery _ in Jackson’s bedroom without adequate safeguards and botched his care when things went wrong.
The prosecution is also are seeking restitution for Jackson’s three children and filed a statement from the singer’s estate stating the cost of the singer’s funeral was more than $1.8 million. The letter also notes that Jackson would have earned $100 million if he had performed a planned series of comeback concerts in London.
The doctor’s fate lies with Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, who will determine the sentence and had harsh words for Murray on the day he was convicted.
“Dr. Murray’s reckless conduct in this case poses a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public,” Pastor said before the Houston-based cardiologist was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Pastor also could address Murray’s decision to participate in a documentary that was filmed throughout the trial and aired days after Murray’s conviction.
Murray states in the film that aired on MSNBC, under the title “Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship,” that he doesn’t feel guilty about the singer’s death because he doesn’t think he did anything wrong.
Prosecutors cited Murray’s comments in their filing last week urging the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
“Finally, the defendant consistently blames the victim for his own death,” the prosecutors said, “even going so far as to characterize himself as being `entrapped’ by the victim and as someone who suffered a `betrayal’ at the hands of the victim.”
Murray’s attorneys are relying largely on statements from his former patients to portray Murray in a softer light and win a lighter sentence.