The “jury is out” in the Conrad Murray case. They will likely return a verdict by the end of today or Monday.
In a criminal case, the burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” We wrote on this subject previously. In June, we explained how the Casey Anthony case was a perfect example of the prosecution failing to meet its burden due to a lack of evidence. In the Casey Anthony case, she was charged with FIRST DEGREE murder. Conrad Murray on the other hand is charged with INVOLUNTARY manslaughter. These two charges are very different, and the evidence required is thus very different.
It is easy to confuse the evidence required with the burden of proof. To prove its case against Conrad Murray, the prosecution must show that Dr. Murray caused Michael Jackson’s death by committing a crime that posed a high risk of death or great bodily injury because of the way in which it was committed, or that Dr. Murray committed a lawful act, but acted with criminal negligence. The prosecution must point to specific acts which meet those requirements, and must prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.
In Casey Anthony’s case, the prosecution had to show intent to kill, not just criminal negligence.
So, did the prosecution here prove its case? Did Dr. Murray act with criminal negligence?
Most of the prosecution’s closing involved emotions, and not facts demonstrating criminal negligence. In fact, the prosecution even said that they do not need to point to facts since the Defendant’s version would still mean that he “should be held responsible.” The prosecution needed to point to actual criminal negligence on the part of the defense, and explain why those acts rise to the level of criminal negligence. He had those facts, but only glossed over those points in favor of the emotional arguments and the actions Dr. Murray allegedly took out of concern for himself.
Here are facts that the prosecution argued which could give rise to criminal negligence (keep in mind, I have only read the closing argument and not all of the testimony during the trial):
- Dr. Murray knew that Michael Jackson liked to administer his own Propofol and should never have left Michael Jackson in a room full of drugs since it was foreseeable that Michael Jackson might give himself drugs that would kill him.
- Propofol should never be given in a bedroom.
In order for the prosecution to win, the prosecution either had to focus on those two points and point to the evidence proving one of those, which they didn’t, or has to hope that the emotional argument persuades the jury. We will soon see.