The jury in the Michael Jackson case found that Dr. Conrad Murray was competent to serve as the pop star’s physician, but they said after the verdict that they don’t believe that vindicates him in the death.
“There are really no winners in this,” jury foreman Gregg Barden said. “Somebody had to die for us to be here.… It was really a tragic situation.”
Valerie Wass, Murray’s appellate attorney, said the verdict wouldn’t help the physician’s appeal of his involuntary manslaughter conviction, but it may help “in the court of public opinion.”
“Hopefully, it will vindicate him in a small way,” she said.
Murray, who is at the Men’s Central Jail, is due to be released in 26 days, she said.
But when told of Wass’ comment, Barden criticized Murray’s treatment of Jackson.
“We felt he was competent,” Barden said. “That doesn’t mean we felt he was ethical. If ethical was in the question, it might have been a different outcome. In the end, he was very unethical. He did something he shouldn’t have done. “
He added later: “I don’t see this as a vindication of Dr. Murray. I would not hire him as my doctor.”
The family’s attorney painted a picture of a cold, calculating entertainment enterprise that failed to notice that Murray was financially desperate and then pushed the physician to get Jackson ready to tour even though the singer was in frail health and was crippled by fear.
“They’re going to kill me, they’re going to kill me,’” Jackson’s eldest son, Prince, testified, recalling the singer’s words in one his final conversations with his father.
AEG tried turning the tables during the trial, all but putting Michael Jackson on trial. AEG said Jackson was the one who brought aboard Murray and that the singer was a fully-formed drug user who had demanded anesthetics as a sleep aid during earlier tours. AEG said it was Jackson who planted the seeds of his demise.
AEG released a statement expressing vindication.
“We lost one of the world’s greatest musical geniuses, but I am relieved and deeply grateful that the jury recognized that neither I, nor anyone else at AEG Live, played any part in Michael’s tragic death,” said Randy Phillips, an AEG executive who was named in the lawsuit.
“The jury’s decision completely vindicates AEG Live, confirming what we have known from the start — that although Michael Jackson’s death was a terrible tragedy, it was not a tragedy of AEG Live’s making,” said AEG’s lead attorney Marvin Putnam.
Juror Kevin Smith said he didn’t believe AEG could have done anything about Jackson’s problems.
“If AEG had known what was going on behind closed doors, it would probably have made a difference, but they didn’t,” Smith said.
“Michael Jackson was pretty used to getting his own way, he was a big star. He had all these doctors who wanted to be his doctors. And he could pretty much get what he wanted. If anybody said no, well they were out of the mix, and he’d find somebody else. … How could AEG have done anything about it when they were kept in the dark?”
Katherine Jackson left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Her attorney, Kevin Boyle, said they were “not happy” with the verdict and plan to “explore all options.”
[For the Record, 10 a.m. PDT Oct. 3: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified juror Kevin Smith as Calvin Smith.]