CALIFORNIA, USA, Friday June 29, 2012 – The Grenada-born, Trinidad-raised physician convicted of killing Michael Jackson regrets not testifying on his own behalf while on trial last year, two defence lawyers said after visiting the jailed doctor on the third anniversary of Jackson’s death.
Cardiologist Conrad Murray, hired as the King of Pop’s personal physician in 2009, began a four-year jail term last November after a jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
During the six-week trial, prosecutors argued that Murray was grossly negligent in administering the surgical anaesthetic propofol as a sleep aid to Jackson, and that the doctor failed to properly monitor him on the drug.
They also presented evidence that Murray delayed calling for emergency assistance when Jackson stopped breathing and that the doctor failed to tell arriving medical personnel he had given him propofol.
Defence lawyers maintained that Murray gave Jackson a small dose of propofol and argued that the singer probably gave himself an extra fatal dose without Murray’s knowledge.
The physician’s attorneys denied he was guilty of criminal negligence, but Murray never took the stand in his own defence, a decision he has come to regret, according to his appellate lawyer Valerie Wass, and J Michael Flanagan, the co-counsel for his manslaughter trial.
“Murray now realises that he should have testified,” Flanagan said, adding that there were various nuances in the case that Murray, as the only person who was with Jackson in the last hours of his life, could adequately explain to the jury.
“Now he says that the biggest mistake he made in the trial of the case was not testifying,” Flanagan said. “We had so many gaps in the case that needed to be filled that could only be supplied by Dr Murray.”
As to Murray’s present circumstances, Flanagan said he was “adapting fairly well for a person who is serving time and who is actually innocent”.
Murray is incarcerated at a Los Angeles County jail, where prisoners have been released because of overcrowding. It’s believed that he may serve less than two years before being released.
Born in 1953 in St Andrew, Grenada, the man who would become embroiled in the controversy surrounding Jackson’s death did not come from a privileged background. With his mother Milta spending most of her time in Trinidad in pursuit of better-paying work, Murray lived with his maternal grandparents, two Grenadian farmers.
His father, Rawle Andrews, was a Houston physician who, up until his death in 2001, focused his career on offering medical services to the poor. Conrad didn’t meet him until he was 25.
At the age of seven, Murray relocated to Trinidad to live with his mother, where he became a citizen and finished school. Like Milta, Murray was determined to make a better life for himself.
After high school he volunteered as an elementary school teacher in Trinidad, an experience he followed with work as a customs clerk and an insurance underwriter in order to pay for his college education.
In 1980, two years after first visiting Houston and meeting his father, Murray returned to enrol at Texas Southern University, where in just three years he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in pre-medicine and biological sciences. From there, Murray followed in his father’s footsteps and attended the primarily African-American Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.
On graduating Maharre, he enrolled for additional training at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and then completed his residency at Loma Linda University Medical Centre in California. Other training stints followed; he studied at the University of Arizona on a Cardiology Fellowship, and landed back in California, where he eventually worked as the associate director for the interventional cardiology fellowship-training program at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego.
Murray left California for a second time in 1999 and struck out on his own, opening up a private practice in Las Vegas. Again taking a cue from his father, he aimed to serve not just the city’s wealthy, but its underserved as well.
In 2006 he met Michael Jackson when the singer, a frequent Vegas visitor, contacted him about treating one of his children. Reports indicate that the two men soon became friends and, as Jackson began making plans for his upcoming 2009 concert tour, he hired Murray to be his personal physician for an astounding $150,000 a month.
The rest, as they say, is history.