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Doctor to be sentenced for Michael Jackson’s death
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.
"There is no question that the death of his patient, Mr. Jackson, was unintentional and an enormous tragedy for everyone affected," defense attorneys wrote in their sentencing memo. "Dr. Murray has been described as a changed, grief-stricken man, who walks around under a pall of sadness since the loss of his patient, Mr. Jackson."
Pastor also will review a report by probation officials that carries a sentencing recommendation. The report will become public after Murray is sentenced.
The report may also feature input from Murray, who chose not to testify in his own defense during the trial but was heard in a lengthy interview recorded by police.
Murray's trial was closely watched by Jackson's fans in the courtroom, on social networking sites and via live broadcasts online and on television.
The trial detailed the final hours of Jackson and portrayed him as a talented genius suffering from debilitating insomnia.
The singer selected Murray as his personal physician, and the doctor began giving Jackson nightly doses of propofol two months before the singer's death.
Several doctors who testified during the trial, including Murray's own hired propofol expert, said they would not have given Jackson the treatments in his bedroom and that Murray violated the standard of care multiple times.
Follow Anthony McCartney at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP
By Tom Fitton
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