- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

LOS ANGELES — The doctor convicted in the overdose death of Michael Jackson was sentenced to the maximum four years behind bars Tuesday by a judge who denounced him as a reckless physician whose actions were a “disgrace to the medical profession.”

Dr. Conrad Murray sat stoically with his hands crossed as Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor repeatedly chastised him for what he called a “horrific violation of trust” while caring for Jackson.

However, Pastor conceded his sentence was constrained by a recent change in California law that requires Murray to serve his sentence in county jail rather than state prison.

Sheriff’s officials later said Murray will serve a little less than two years behind bars while housed in a one-man cell and kept away from other prisoners.

“This is going to be a real test of our criminal justice system to see if it’s meaningful at all,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said.

Cooley said he was considering asking the judge to modify the sentence to classify the crime as a serious felony warranting incarceration in state prison.

The judge was relentless in his bashing of the 58-year-old Murray, saying he lied repeatedly and had not shown remorse for his actions in the treatment of Jackson. Pastor also said Murray’s heavy use of the powerful anesthetic propofol to help Jackson battle insomnia violated his sworn obligation.

“It should be made very clear that experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated, and Mr. Jackson was an experiment,” Pastor said. “Dr. Murray was intrigued by the prospect and he engaged in this money for medicine madness that is simply not going to be tolerated by me.”

Pastor also said Murray has “absolutely no sense of fault, and is and remains dangerous” to the community.

The judge said.one of the most disturbing aspects of Murray’s case was a slurred recording of Jackson recovered from the doctor’s cell phone.

“That tape recording was Dr. Murray’s insurance policy,” Pastor said. “It was designed to record his patient surreptitiously at that patient’s most vulnerable point.”

Defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan contended that nothing said during the hearing would have changed the judge’s mind about the sentence.

Michael Jackson’s family told Pastor in a statement read earlier that they were not seeking revenge but wanted Murray to receive a stiff sentence that served as a warning to opportunistic doctors.

It included elements from Jackson’s parents, siblings and his three children.

“As his brothers and sisters, we will never be able to hold, laugh or perform again with our brother Michael,” the statement said. “And as his children, we will grow up without a father, our best friend, our playmate and our dad.”

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