Caribbean doctor appeals conviction in Michael Jackson case

CALIFORNIA, United States, Friday April 26, 2013 – Dr Conrad Murray, the Grenada-born, Trinidad-raised cardiologist who was given a maximum four-year sentence after his 2011 conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, has launched an appeal.

In papers filed Monday asking an appellate court to throw out his conviction, the physician’s attorney maintained that Dr  Murray’s trial was “fundamentally unfair” because of the publicity surrounding the case and the fame of his patient.

Appellate attorney Valerie Wass also contended that prosecutors had failed at trial to prove that Murray was responsible for the death of the “King of Pop”. She further contended that the trial judge, Michael Pastor, had “displayed a bias” against the cardiologist.

In a 231-page brief, Wass argued that the singer had probably injected himself with the surgical anaesthetic that led to his death.

She further maintained that the judge should have allowed the doctor’s defence to present evidence of Jackson’s dire financial straits.

“In more ways than one, Jackson was a desperate man,” she wrote. “Based on his desperate financial state, combined with his physiological problems, Jackson may have acted recklessly and/or irrationally on June 25th by self-injecting.”

At the trial, prosecutors had responded to this theory by arguing that even if Jackson had awoken and self-administered the fatal dose, Murray was still negligent and should be held responsible for the pop icon’s death.

The appellate attorney also wrote that jurors could not possibly have been shielded from the overwhelming media coverage of the seven-week trial.

She pointed out that witnesses gave media interviews during trial, and noted that there was even a “Michael Jackson Doctor Trial” smartphone application.

Wass also contended that it was improper for the trial judge to have considered media interviews.

Prior to handing down the cardiologist’s sentence, Pastor had remarked from the bench on Murray’s lack of remorse in a television interview that aired after the trial.

“Talk about blaming the victim…. Not only isn’t there any remorse, there is umbrage and outrage on the part of Dr Murray against the decedent,” the judge said at the time.

Wass accused Pastor of sentencing Murray to a harsher term than he deserved because of the high-profile nature of the case.

“It appears that due to the publicity surrounding the case, and the fact the victim was one of the most famous people in the world, the court was trying to make an example out of appellant,” she wrote.

Under state sentencing guidelines, Dr Murray is due to be released in October. The outcome of the cardiologist’s appeal will affect his ability to practice medicine after his release. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample