While there are still questions about whether Dr. Conrad Murray received any money for allowing a documentary film crew to follow him during the two years after Michael Jackson’s death -- and to interview him during his trial -- it certainly appears that the deal played some role in costing him his freedom.
During Murray’s sentencing hearing Tuesday, prosecutor David Walgren and Judge Michael Pastor both referred to statements that he made in a documentary that aired days after his conviction. Walgren quoted Murray’s response to a question about whether he feels any guilt for what he has done: “I don’t feel guilty because I did not do anything wrong.”
Walgren pointed out that Murray chose not to testify at his trial but he willingly spoke about the case in the documentary, which aired on MSNBC as “Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship.” He asked the court to consider the lack of remorse that statement reflected.
In handing down the maximum possible sentence for Murray’s involuntary manslaughter charge, Pastor said he believed the doctor was dangerous because he showed “absolutely no sense of remorse, absolutely no sense of fault.” He said Murray seemed to blame Jackson and others for his situation and portrayed himself as “just a bystander.”
“Why give probation to someone who is offended by the whole idea that that person is even before the court?” Pastor asked before sentencing Murray to four years in county jail.
In a post-sentencing press conference, defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan said the documentary was not helpful, but he did not think it changed what the judge was going to do. Walgren said at a prosecution press conference that he was surprised it was made.
According to the Los Angeles Times, NBC denied making any payments to Murray or his defense team and London-based production company October Films claimed they only paid Murray $1 for his participation. The production company would not address whether Murray received any money from the sale of international rights to air the documentary in at least 10 other countries.
The Times reported that Murray was $800,000 in debt when Jackson died in June 2009, but he was able to hire high-profile defense attorneys and a team of medical experts after he signed on for the documentary project.