Hours after Dr. Conrad Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Michael Jackson’s 2009 death, the embattled physician pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon (February 8) during an arraignment hearing at a Los Angeles courthouse, according to The Associated Press.
Murray’s bail was set at $75,000, three times greater than the bail usually set for such crimes. Without being handcuffed, Murray was then taken into custody for booking. He must surrender his passport, allowing him to travel within the United States but not out of the country. Prosecutors had been seeking bail of $300,000, but Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz rejected that amount. The involuntary-manslaughter charge carries a maximum jail sentence of four years.
Speaking with reporters following the hearing, Ed Chernoff, Murray’s lawyer, said his client would not be talking to press. “He’s going to go home,” Chernoff said. “He’s going to go back to his family. He’s going to go back to his patients.”
Members of the Jackson family — including the singer’s parents, Joe and Katherine, sister La Toya and brothers Jermaine, Tito and Randy — were present during the hearing. Afterward the family made its way through a throng of fans and reporters outside the courthouse without making a formal comment to the press. “We need justice,” Joe announced at one point as he made his way to his vehicle, according to The New York Times.
During the hearing, Randy Jackson tweeted, “Sitting in court & I’m sad. Those profiting most from my bro’s death: AEG, Randy Phillips, Kenny Ortega, Estate Executors r nowhere in sight.”
“This charge is a slap on the wrist,” Brian Oxman, Joe Jackson’s lawyer, told People. “There’s great disappointment here. [Conrad Murray] should’ve been charged with a higher degree of responsibility. What he did was reckless. It was a disregard for human life.”
Earlier in the day, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint alleging Murray acted “unlawfully, and without malice [to] kill Michael Joseph Jackson” in administering the surgical anesthetic propofol and other tranquilizers to the singer. The coroner’s report has indicated that Murray gave Jackson a dose of propofol sufficient for “major surgery” and that the pop singer died of “acute propofol intoxication.”
Murray had been treating Jackson as the King of Pop prepared for a series of comeback concerts at London’s O2 arena. Murray told investigators that he administered the sedatives to Jackson several times in the hours leading up to his death and eventually discovered that Jackson was no longer breathing. The singer was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. PT on June 25.