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Jackson doctor files appeal, alleging unfair trial

April 22, 2013|By Victoria Kim
  • Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court after the jury returned with a guilty verdict in his involuntary manslaughter trial in November 2011.
Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court after the jury returned with a guilty verdict… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

Dr. Conrad Murray’s trial was “fundamentally unfair” because of the publicity surrounding his manslaughter case and the fame of his patient, Michael Jackson, the physician’s attorney wrote in papers filed Monday asking an appellate court to throw out his conviction.

Murray’s attorney contended that prosecutors failed at trial to prove that the cardiologist was responsible for the pop icon’s death. She also contended that the trial judge, Michael Pastor, “displayed a bias” against the doctor. 

Murray was sentenced to a maximum four-year sentence after his 2011 conviction for involuntary manslaughter. 

The appellate attorney, Valerie Wass, argued in her 231-page brief that Jackson probably injected himself with the surgical anesthetic that led to his death and that the judge should have allowed Murray’s defense to present evidence of the pop star's dire finances.

“In more ways than one, Jackson was a desperate man,” she wrote. “Based on his desperate financial state, combined with his physiological problems, Jackson may have acted recklessly and/or irrationally on June 25th by self-injecting.”

Wass wrote that jurors could not possibly have been shielded from the overwhelming media coverage of the seven-week trial. She noted that witnesses gave media interviews during trial and that there was even a “Michael Jackson Doctor Trial” smartphone application.

She accused Pastor of sentencing Murray to a harsher term than he deserved because the case was high-profile.

“It appears that due to the publicity surrounding the case, and the fact the victim was one of the most famous people in the world, the court was trying to make an example out of appellant,” she wrote.

Murray is due to be released in October under state sentencing guidelines.

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Twitter: @vicjkim

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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