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Conrad Murray found guilty in Michael Jackson trial

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 2:25 AM EST, Tue November 8, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Murray's lawyer say the verdict may have been different if other evidence was allowed
  • Jury finds Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter
  • He faces four years in prison on the conviction
  • Murray's attorneys said case was not a criminal matter

Tune in to HLN for full coverage and analysis of the Conrad Murray trial and watch live, as it happens, on CNN.com/Live and CNN's mobile apps.

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A two-year legal battle over who was responsible for Michael Jackson's sudden death came to a dramatic close Monday as a California jury found Dr. Conrad Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Dr. Murray appeared to show no emotion as the verdict was read by court clerk Sammi Benson, but La Toya Jackson, the late pop icon's sister, let out a loud, but short, scream.

A loud celebration erupted among Jackson fans outside of the downtown Los Angeles County courthouse, where emotions ran so high at least one woman fainted.

Murray was immediately handcuffed and taken away by deputies after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor denied bail.

"This is not a crime involving a mistake of judgment. ... This was a crime where the end result was the death of a human being," Pastor said in explaining his decision to remand Murray to police custody. "That factor demonstrates rather dramatically that the public should be protected."

Sentencing was set for November 29, with Murray facing up to four years in prison on the conviction.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff told CNN the defense team's main job right now is to prepare for sentencing and limit the amount of time that Murray spends in jail.

"What matters most right now is trying to keep Dr. Murray from taking up a prison cell in this community," Chernoff said. "That's what we're focusing on right now and we'll deal with an appeal after that."

When asked if he was shocked by the verdict, Chernoff said, "No."

Another of Murray's lawyers, Nareg Gourjian, told CNN on Monday night the outcome may have been different had the defense been able to introduce additional evidence -- like on Jackson's past drug use and "financial condition."

Gourjian described his client as "devastated" by the verdict, adding Murray is trying to stay positive with more legal options ahead of him.

"We're hoping that the appeals court will have something to say about this," the lawyer said.

Murray served as Jackson's personal physician as Jackson prepared for his comeback concerts, with Murray giving him the surgical anesthetic propofol to help him sleep nearly every night for the last two months of his life, according to testimony.

Jackson's death on June 25, 2009, was caused by "acute propofol intoxication" in combination with two sedatives, the Los Angeles County coroner ruled.

The verdict followed about nine hours of jury deliberations, which began Friday morning in the downtown Los Angeles County courthouse.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley thanked jurors "for their hard work and thoughtful deliberation," and expressed gratitude that they recognized the "overwhelming" evidence against Murray in finding him guilty.

Prosecutor Michael Walgren personally expressed his sympathies to the Jackson family who he said lost "not a pop icon, but a son and brother."

Fans gathered outside of the courthouse ahead of the verdict with signs of support for Jackson including one banner that read, "We miss Michael." The crowd began celebrating once word of the guilty verdict reached them, chanting "Rest in peace." Passing cars honked their horns, as people nearby hugged, cried and yelled out in joy.

An emotional La Toya Jackson on Monday thanked all those involved in the trial, calling the decision a "victory."

"Everybody was wonderful," La Toya Jackson told HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell as she left the Los Angeles courthouse.

Crowd outside erupts in jubilations

The seven men and five women on the jury heard 49 witnesses over 23 days, including Murray's girlfriends and patients, Jackson's former employees, investigators and medical experts for each side.

A statement released by Jackson's estate Monday said that "justice has been served."

Defense lawyers contended the matter was a negligence case that should instead be heard by the state medical board.

"If it were anybody else but Michael Jackson, would this doctor be here today?" lead defense lawyer Ed Chernoff asked in his closing.

Jurors were left to decide if the propofol overdose was infused into Jackson's blood by a steady intravenous drip, as the prosecution contended, or if Jackson injected himself using a syringe left nearby by Murray, as the defense argued.

"He was just a little fish in a big, dirty pond," Chernoff said, pointing the finger at other doctors who treated Jackson, and Jackson himself.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren attacked the defense for trying to blame "everybody but Conrad Murray, poor Conrad Murray."

"If allowed more time to argue, I am sure they would find a way to blame Michael's son, Prince," Walgren said in his closing rebuttal.

Walgren painted Murray as a selfish doctor who agreed to take $150,000 a month to give Jackson nightly infusions of propofol in his home, something prosecutors argued an ethical doctor would never do because of the dangers.

Murray's license to practice medicine is now suspended, according to the Medical Board of California, which decides if a doctor can legally work in the state.

In the light of the conviction, the board now will open an investigation to determine whether or not to fully revoke Murray's right to practice medicine in the state, spokeswoman Jennifer Simoes said.

The main criteria in deciding whether to revoke, suspend or take other action against any doctor is assessing how substantial a crime is related to the practice of medicine. There is no timeline as to when the board might act regarding Murray, said Simoes.

CNN's Ted Rowlands contributed to this report.

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