Convicted Jackson doctor seeks freedom pending appeal

Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:00pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The doctor convicted of killing Michael Jackson asked on Friday to be released from jail, pending an appeal that could take a year to be heard.

Dr. Conrad Murray said in court papers filed in Los Angeles that he would agree to electronic monitoring or other conditions. But he asked to be set free while he appeals his conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the "Thriller" singer's 2009 death.

Murray, 58, was sentenced to four years in November after a six-week trial. Witnesses testified that he was guilty of gross negligence for giving Jackson regular doses of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid, and failing to monitor him.

According to his defense attorney on Friday, Murray is being held in a solitary cell and has his hands chained to his waist, or to a table, when he is allowed out.

Attorney J. Michael Flanagan wrote in a declaration to Los Angeles Superior Court that Murray's sentence "is very severe" considering the circumstances of the case.

Flanagan wrote that Murray's conviction stemmed from "an unusual situation, a close friendship with Michael Jackson and a desire to assist him through a difficult situation. Dr. Murray may have made wrong choices and not have exercised good medical judgment at times, but he never intended to injure anyone."

Murray, who pleaded not guilty and did not testify at his trial, said in the court filing that he had been told his appeal "will take well over a year before an opinion is rendered."

He asked for his request for release be heard by the court on February 24.

Murray last month asked for a publicly funded lawyer because he could not fund his appeal himself. He said in Friday's papers that he would try and find work to support his children if he was allowed out.

Jackson, 50, died in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009 of an overdose of propofol and sedatives just weeks before a series of planned comeback concerts.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler)