The doctor suspected of administering a lethal sedative to Michael Jackson pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of involuntary manslaughter, capping months of investigation into his involvement in the stunning death of the pop star last summer.
Dr. Conrad Murray, 57, who was the singer's personal physician in the final months of his life, turned himself in and pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, hours after he was charged. The doctor was released $75,000 bail and will be permitted to travel throughout the country but was required to surrender his passport.
Murray appeared at the courthouse in a gray suit, walking past hordes of reporters and fans. The doctor entered the courthouse to shouts of "murderer," according to the AP.
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The L.A. District Attorney is charging Murray administered what the county coroner determined to be an overdose of propofol before the pop legend's June 25 death. Murray "did unlawfully, and without malice, kill Michael Joseph Jackson" by acting "without the caution and circumspection required" when he gave the propofol to Jackson, the District Attorney's complaint said.
Murray's team will fight the charge, said the doctor's lawyer, Ed Chernoff. "We'll make bail, we'll lead not guilty, and we'll fight like hell," Chernoff told the AP.
After the charge was filed, members of Jackson's family including mother Katherine Jackson and father Joe Jackson arrived at the courthouse.
Joe and Katherine Jackson as well as Michael's famous siblings LaToya, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Randy Jackson sat behind Murray during the hearing.
Joe Jackson's camp told People that the involuntary manslaughter charge isn't harsh enough for Murray.
"This charge is a slap on the wrist," Joe Jackson's lawyer Brian Oxman told People. "There's great disappointment here. [He] should have been charged with a higher degree of responsibility.
"What he did was reckless. It was a disregard for human life," Oxman said.
The Texas-based Murray was hired to be Jackson's personal physician as the singer prepped for his planned London comeback tour. Police claimed in court documents that Murray told them that Jackson referred to propofol as his "milk" and that he was giving Jackson the drug "every night via intravenous drip (IV) to assist Jackson in sleeping."
A full autopsy report released Monday by the Los Angeles County coroner's office found that Jackson died of "acute propofol intoxication" and that the singer was given the anesthetic in an amount that would be used in a "major surgery," the Los Angeles Times reported.
"There are NO reports of [propofol's] use for insomnia relief, to my knowledge," the L.A. Times wrote anesthesiology consultant Selma Calmes wrote in the report.
Murray has been eyed by cops since Jackson's death, but investigations into the doctor's practice were heightened when the coroner ruled Jackson's death a homicide last fall.
Murray, if convicted, could face up to four years in prison. Even if Murray is acquitted, Jackson's family can sue Murray for millions.
"This is absolutely a slam-dunk malpractice case simply because of the alleged use of propofol," Bill Newkirk, an L.A. attorney specializing in medical malpractice told People magazine.
"If the drug was indeed in his system, no competent doctor could justify why it was used. You can bet the Jackson family will be filing a civil claim soon against any doctors implicated in Jackson's medical care."
The doctor will return to his medical practice while he awaits trial, Murray's lawyer said. State officials told the AP they will move to petition for Murray's license to be suspended during the waiting period.