Relatives of the late Michael Jackson may speak during the morning sentencing hearing for Dr. Conrad Murray.
Since he was convicted Nov. 7 of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s 2009 death, Murray has been awaiting sentencing inside the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. He could be sentenced to up to four years in state prison.
But because of a recent California law dealing with prison overcrowding, as District Attorney Steve Cooley has acknowledged, it is likely any term imposed on Dr. Murray would in fact be served in county jail. There he would be eligible for early release or monitored house arrest.
Murray to be Sentence Tuesday
Jackson family members, including mother Katherine and siblings LaToya, Jermaine, Randy and Rebbie, are at the proceedings.
"The maximum is not enough," Jackson's brother Jermaine said on his way into the courtroom.
DA Wants Conrad Murray to Pay $100 Million
Jackson's sister La Toya, tweeted Tuesday morning, "Hoping that Murray gets what he deserve, THE MAXIMUM PLUS!!!!"
Jackson family lawyer Brian Panish was the first to address the court during Tuesday's hearing.
"We are not here to seek revenge," Panish said, reading a family statement. "We will keep the love in our hearts. We respectfully request that you impose a sentence that reminds physicians that they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder."
During their presentation Tuesday, prosecutors recalled trial testimony that characterized Murray as placing his own interests above his patient's.
"At the point Dr. Murray knew his actions caused the death of Michael Jackson, he didn't immediately begin to cure the situation," said Deputy District Attorney David Walgren. "He started looking out for himself. He started cleaning up the room. He waited 20 minutes to have some one call 911. He then lied repeatedly.
"He did not even give the family the answers they deserved."
Murray's lawyers have signaled they will ask Judge Michael Pastor to place the 58-year-old cardiologist on probation and sentence him to perform community service in lieu of a term in custody. "I think the mitigating circumstances in this case greatly outweigh any aggravating factors," said J. Michael Flanagan, one of Murray's attorneys.
The judge will have received a whole spectrum of recommendations, from the defense's request, to the maximum term of four years sought by the District Attorney's office, according to a sentencing memorandum released last week.
Under the law, other options the judge could impose are sentences of two or three years, with or without restitution.
NBC4 learned Monday that the pre-sentencing report by the Probation Department recommends the mid-term sentence of three years.
The Probation Report lists two aggravating factors: "The defendant took advantage of a position of public trust or confidence," and "The victim was particularly vulnerable." As a mitigating factor, the report noted that "The defendant has no prior record..."
The sentencing memorandum filed by Murray's defense included letters of support from his mother Milta Rush and 33 others. A source close to the defense told NBCLA that the defense's sentencing presentation may rely on the letters and not have anyone, apart from his legal counsel, speak in person. The same source indicated Murray would not speak on his own behalf.
The defense memorandum describes Murray as a self-made man who rose from an impoverished childhood to fulfill his ambition to practice medicine. The memorandum cites Murray's charitable work in the Caribbean and in the impoverished Houston neighborhood of Acres Home, where Murray founded and operated a clinic and treated many patients for free.
"Whether he's a greeter at Walmart or a barrista, Dr. Murray is always going to be the man who killed Michael Jackson -- that's who he is now," Chernoff said. "You listened to two witnesses say straight out, they wouldn't be alive without him. Does any of that matter?"
Some time after sentencing, the Murray defense is expected to appeal his conviction.
In addition to time in custody, the prosecution is also seeking restitution of more than $100 million on behalf of Jackson’s three children. Included in the amount is $1.8 million for funeral expenses and the some $100 million the Jackson estate estimates he would have received for 50 London concerts during the scheduled “This Is It” tour that was to have been Jackson's comeback.
"The people are under no illusion that Dr. Murray has the ability to pay $100 million, but the people are under the obligation to seek restitution," Walgren said.
Jackson died after returning from a rehearsal. During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Murray treated Jackson's insomnia with the surgical sedative propofol, delivered via an IV drip. The coroner determined that acute propofol intoxication was the primary cause of Jackson's death.
Murray has been saddled with debts and there is no expectation he actually would be able to pay $100 million. But seeking it still serves a function for the prosecution, according to attorney and NBC4 legal analyst Royal Oakes.
The message to the judge would be, "If he had the money, he should be paying millions," said Oakes, explaining one possible argument the prosecution could make Tuesday. "[Murray] can’t do that, therefore he should do the maximum time behind bars,” said Oakes.
Murray's comments, made during a pre-conviction NBC interview could also work against him at sentencing, Oakes said.
“I don’t feel guilty because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Murray said in the interview. His comments are also cited by the prosecution in its memo as a sign of a lack of remorse.
"That gives the other side and the judge an opportunity to say, ‘He’s not really showing any remorse, he’s not taking this seriously,” Oakes said.