Conrad Murray's lawyer argues the trial judge erred by denying him bail while appealing conviction
A jury found Murray guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death
Jackson died of an overdose of a surgical anesthetic and sedatives under Murray's care
Murray has about 10 months left to serve unless he is freed early
The doctor convicted of causing Michael Jackson’s death asked an appeals court this week to let him out of jail while the judges decide whether they will overturn his conviction.
The judge who presided over Conrad Murray’s trial last year denied bail in a February hearing, saying his lawyers had not proven he was not a risk to flee the state or harm someone else with his questionable medical practices.
Jackson died of an overdose of a surgical anesthetic and sedatives in his home while under Dr. Murray’s care on June 25, 2009.
Los Angeles County District Judge Michael Pastor, who sentenced Murray to four years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter conviction, “unjustifiably erred” by denying Murray’s request to remain free during his appeal,” Murray lawyer Valerie Wass said in a motion filed this week with California’s Second District Court of Appeals.
“Appellant respectfully requests that this court order his release on his own recognizance pending appeal, or alternatively, that it order his release on reasonable bail,” Wass wrote.
Murray, who has been in a Los Angeles County jail since a jury found him guilty in November 2011, is eligible for parole after serving two years. Murray is set to be freed October 28, 2013 unless he is let out early on bail or because of jail overcrowding.
Pastor said he doubted Murray would stick around for the appeal decision because he has “resources” to flee and “significant ties elsewhere,” including to Grenada, where he was born, and Trinidad, where he was raised.
But Murray is a naturalized U.S. citizen with children in the United States, including a 3-year-old son in California, Wass argued in her motion for bail. The prospect of losing his life in the United States would prevent him from leaving the country, she said.
“It would be all but impossible for appellant to flee” because he has become infamous from the media coverage of Jackson’s death and the trial, Wass wrote.
As for resources, Murray is broke, she said.
Pastor also suggested Murray was a danger to the public because of his dangerous attitude toward using propofol, the drug that killed Jackson.
Wass argued in the appeal that Murray would not be practicing medicine since California suspended his medical license after he was convicted and he voluntarily surrendered his other medical licenses in Texas and Nevada.
“He lacks the means and ability to prescribe or obtain pharmaceutical drugs,” she wrote.
Prosecutors have until the end of December to file their response to Murray’s bail request.
Murray is appealing his conviction on several points, including the contention that Pastor erred in not allowing his lawyers to present evidence of Jackson’s financial troubles, which they argued would support their theory that the pop star’s desperation led him to administer the fatal dose to himself.
Wass argued that the judge’s decision not to allow the defense to call Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein or his staff as witnesses denied Murray a fair trial. Murray’s lawyers contended that drugs given to Jackson by Klein in the weeks before his death contributed to his death.
The judge’s refusal to sequester the jury in a hotel during the trial, which was televised live, “may have improperly influenced the jurors,” Wass argued.
Another major issue in the appeal is the decision not to allow Murray’s lawyers to test the contents of a bottle found next to Jackson’s bed. They contend it could reveal evidence to support their theory that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose while Murray was out of the room.
Jackson’s mother and three children are suing AEG, the promotion company they say hired Murray and supervised Murray’s care of Jackson as he prepared for comeback concerts in London in summer 2009. Murray is expected to be a witness in the wrongful death trial scheduled for next April.