By Alan Duke
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Dr. Conrad Murray left the Los Angeles County jail under sheriff’s escort, avoiding reporters and Michael Jackson fans waiting for his release early Monday.
Murray, who served two years of a four-year sentence for causing Michael Jackson’s death, was driven away in a sheriff’s car for the “safety and security” of the jail, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
The handful of Jackson fans gathered outside the jail accused the Los Angeles County sheriff of showing favoritism to Murray by slipping him out of the jail through a back exit, instead of the door where freed prisoners normally leave.
Murray, who the sheriff’s spokesman described as an exemplary inmate, was kept away from the general inmate population during his two years in the jail. He was also allowed to have liberal use of a telephone inside his cell during his last year.
Murray’s lawyer told reporters outside the jail that he would try to get his medical licenses reinstated in California, Texas and Nevada so he can resume the medical career interrupted by his conviction on the involuntary manslaughter in 2011.
A jury concluded after a two-month trial that Murray’s negligence led to Jackson’s death from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol.
The cardiologist, who was hired to serve as the pop icon’s personal doctor for his comeback tour in 2009, told investigators he gave Jackson nightly infusions of propofol to treat his intractable insomnia for two months so he could rest for rehearsals.
Prosecutors argued that his negligence included leaving Jackson unmonitored and unattended while the powerful anesthetic was being pumped into his vein through an IV drip.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren, arguing for the maximum four years in jail, said Murray was “playing Russian roulette with Michael Jackson’s life every single night,” by using propofol to put him to sleep in “a reckless, obscene manner.”
Murray’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued that Jackson self-administered the drug while Murray was out of his bedroom.
He remained unremorseful during his two years in jail.
“My entire approach may not have been an orthodox approach, but my intentions were good,” Murray told CNN’s Anderson Cooper interview last April.
He said his intentions were to wean Jackson from propofol. He said he succeeded in eliminating propofol from his insomnia treatment three days before Jackson’s death.
“I explained to Michael that this is an artificial way of considering sleep. It was basically sedation, minimal sedation,” he told Cooper.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor imposed the maximum sentence on Murray, even though the doctor was technically eligible for probation.
Pastor, in a 30-minute speech explaining his sentence, cited Murray’s “pattern of deceit and lies. That pattern was to assist Dr. Murray.”
Jackson died “not because of an isolated one-off occurrence or incident,” Pastor said. “He died because of a totality of circumstances which are directly attributable to Dr. Murray … because of a series of decisions that Dr. Murray made.”
Murray, he said, became involved in “a cycle of horrible medicine.”
Jackson family members and fans have complained that Murray should have been prosecuted for second degree murder — not manslaughter.
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