Attorney: Houston doctor convicted in Jackson’s death ‘devastated’ by verdict


by Courtney Zubowski/ KHOU 11 News

Posted on November 9, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 9 at 10:01 PM

HOUSTON -- An Attorney who defended Dr. Conrad Murray says the Houston cardiologist was caught off guard by the guilty verdict.

“I can tell you that he’s devastated and it’s hard to see him that way. It’s hard to see him in jail,” attorney Ed Chernoff said in his first television interview since the verdict.

On Monday, a Los Angeles County jury found the doctor guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Michael Jackson.

Prosecutors said Murray, who was hired as Jackson’s personal physician, gave the King of Pop a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol.

Jackson died in June 2009 at his Beverly Hills mansion.

Murray faces up to four years in prison. His attorney will ask the judge for probation.

“I think it would be absurd to put him in prison in California where they’re releasing violent prisoners because of the overcrowding situation in the prisons. To fill a prison bed with a cardiologist, with no prior criminal record, who the jury essentially said made a mistake, and then not necessarily for nefarious motives, it would be a tragedy, but, having said that, this is a different case,” said Chernoff.

Chernoff is Murray’s lead defense attorney.  He exchanged brief words with his client before the verdict was read.

“Dr. Murray turned to me and said, ‘have faith.’ I said, ‘faith and God is one thing, faith in human beings is a whole different ball game,’” recalled Chernoff.

Following the verdict, Murray was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs and was taken to jail where he will remain until, at least, his sentencing at the end of the month.

“The whole thing’s a show, the whole thing’s a show and that’s part of the show. I warned him about it,” said Chernoff.

Chernoff described the six-week long trial as a “Kim Kardashian” like reality TV show. He said it felt more like the Golden Globes or a Broadway play than a court case.

He described his experience walking into the courtroom for closing arguments.

“I’m walking through the hallway, and it’s as if the curtain is opening, the hall is lined with 100,200 people,” he said.  “This one guy yells out, ‘Chernoff, I came here to watch you lose.’ I said, ‘well, but, you did come out, you did come out didn’t you,’” he shared. “There were a lot of times during trial I would think to myself, ‘Oh Lord to be in Texas again.’”

With the guilty verdict,  Murray automatically lost his California medical license. The same thing could happen in Texas, Nevada and Hawaii, where he is also licensed to practice.

“Oh, I’m sure it’s going to be a domino effect,” said Chernoff. “He’s devastated as you can imagine. He’s devastated, but he’s going to survive.”

Murray’s sentencing is set for Nov. 29th in Los Angeles.

A judge will make the decision rather than a jury.