LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson's doctor was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter after a trial that painted him as a reckless caregiver who administered a lethal dose of a powerful anesthetic that killed the pop star.
The verdict against Dr. Conrad Murray marked the latest chapter in one of pop culture's most shocking tragedies — the death of the King of Pop on the eve of the singer's heavily promoted comeback concerts.
Members of Jackson's family, including his sister LaToya, wept quietly after the verdict was read.
Mother Katherine Jackson later told The Associated Press, "I feel better now."
Asked if she was confident this would be the outcome, she said, "Yes I was."
La Toya Jackson told the AP she was overjoyed.
"Michael was looking over us," she said on her way out of the courthouse.
Murray sat stone-faced during the verdict and was handcuffed and taken into custody without bail until sentencing on Nov. 29. He appeared calm as officials led him out of the courtroom.
"Dr. Murray's reckless conduct in this case poses a demonstrable risk to the safety of the public" if he remains free on bond, Judge Michael E. Pastor said.
A shriek broke the eerie silence in the packed courtroom when the verdict was read, and the crowd erupted outside the courthouse. Jubilant Jackson fans cheered and sang "Beat It" as they held signs that read "guilty" and "killer." Passing motorists honked their horns.
The jury deliberated less than nine hours. The Houston cardiologist, 58, faces a sentence of up to four years in prison. He could also lose his medical license.
Murray's attorneys left the courtroom without commenting.
In Las Vegas, a former Murray patient and current friend, Donna DiGiacomo, sobbed and said she thought the jury was under "overwhelming pressure to convict."
"This man didn't deserve this. They needed a scapegoat," said DiGiacomo, 53, a former Long Island, N.Y., teacher's aide who said she didn't believe Murray did anything to intentionally harm Jackson.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009, and details of his final days dribbled out over several months.
The complete story, however, finally emerged during the six-week trial. It was the tale of a tormented genius on the brink of what might have been his greatest triumph with one impediment standing in his way — extreme insomnia.
Testimony came from medical experts, household employees and Murray's former girlfriends, among others.
The most shocking moments, however, came when prosecutors displayed a large picture of Jackson's gaunt, lifeless body on a hospital gurney and played the sound of his drugged, slurred voice, as recorded by Murray just weeks before the singer's death.
Jackson talked about plans for a fantastic children's hospital and his hope of cementing a legacy larger than that of Elvis Presley or The Beatles.
"We have to be phenomenal," he said about his "This Is It" concerts in London. "When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world.'"
Prosecutors portrayed Murray as an incompetent doctor who used the anesthetic propofol without adequate safeguards and whose neglect left Jackson abandoned as he lay dying.
Murray's lawyers sought to show the doctor was a medical angel of mercy with former patients vouching for his skills. Murray told police from the outset that he gave Jackson propofol and other sedatives as the star struggled for sleep to prepare for his shows. But the doctor said he administered only a small dose on the day Jackson died.
Lawyers for Murray and a defense expert blamed Jackson for his own death, saying the singer gave himself the fatal dose of propofol while Murray wasn't watching. A prosecution expert said that theory was crazy.
Murray said he had formed a close friendship with Jackson, never meant to harm him and couldn't explain why he died.