On December 8, 1980 Mark David Chapman shot four hollow-point bullets into the back of John Lennon, killing him nearly instantly. For that crime, Chapman received a sentence of twenty years to life. Since 1980, Chapman has been up for parole eight times. In every instance, his parole has been denied. Despite obvious issues with mental illness and the fact that at least in the last few years he has shown some degree of genuine remorse for his crime, Chapman remains behind bars to this day, as arguably he should. After all, he took the life of a husband and father-a father who still had a young son to raise. And he took the life of someone that millions of people all over the world loved.
On June 25th, 2009, Conrad Murray injected a needle into the arm of Michael Jackson and injected him with a massive, lethal overdose of the anesthetic Propofol. For that crime, Murray received a sentence of four years, of which he served only two. Since that time, Murray has displayed no ounce of remorse for his actions but, rather, has continued to blame his victim while constantly using the platform granted to him by the media for purposes of profit, self promotion and self aggrandizement. Conrad Murray, also, took the life of a father who still had three small children to raise; who was the beloved son of an elderly mother and who also had millions of people all over the world who loved him.
Do you see something wrong with this picture? If not, I urge you to undertake some hard soul searching to understand what forces have shaped your values. Of course I understand there were different, mitigating circumstances of these two crimes. One was a cold blooded, premeditated murder. The other took place under far murkier circumstances, and although prosecutors had initially pushed for a second degree murder charge for Conrad Murray, they ultimately went with the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter-a charge that would be much easier to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As to the degree of possible premeditation involved, we can only leave that for the conspiracy theorists. There is certainly no proof that Conrad Murray intended to kill Michael Jackson that morning or that he acted with premeditated malice. But the end result was the same. The coroner ruled Jackson’s death a homicide. If you look at the coroner reports of both musicians, you can clearly see that both deaths fell under the same classification.
Determining to what degree of homicide both fell under is, of course, the difference between a twenty year to life prison term vs. a four year jail term with two years lopped off due to overcrowding and “good behavior.” But it also points to something else as well, and that is the standard by which we measure an act of homicide-especially, we might argue, celebrity homicides. Really, who gets to determine if bullets are a more legit weapon of choice than the injection of a potentially lethal substance? Murder is still murder. But while Chapman continues to deservedly languish in prison, Conrad Murray has been living reportedly quite handsomely in Florida, and lately has been all over the news and in the tabloids, smugly promoting his new “tell all” memoir about the patient he killed and is now, apparently, in talks for a reality TV spot on Britain’s “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!”
While many in the media have expressed their personal belief that Murray’s actions are despicable, there remains nevertheless a disturbing double standard in the way the respective crimes of Conrad Murray as opposed to Mark Chapman or Yolanda Saldivar (still serving out a life sentence without possibility of parole for the murder of Selena) have and continue to be handled. Let’s imagine for a moment that it is Mark Chapman or Yolanda Saldivar, writing a memoir about their victims John Lennon or Selena; imagine it is one of these fine folks getting the media blitz treatment and being offered spots on reality TV shows. Would we not expect to hear a public outrage? You’re damned right we would hear it! And lest anyone wants to start up the usual babble about how “fanatical” and “overprotective” Michael Jackson’s fans are, consider how fans of Selena reacted last year at the mere rumor that her killer might be up for an early parole!
Conrad Murray’s trashy memoir is only the latest outrage from a man who, if there was any justice in the world, would still be serving out the four year sentence he was given (or at the very least would only just now be coming out).It was a sentence that by Judge Pastor’s own admission was inadequate for the crime that was committed.The man is a convicted felon. Michael Jackson’s death was ruled a homicide at his hands. Murray’s trial firmly established no less than seventeen egregious violations of medical care that led directly to the death of Michael Jackson. Those seventeen violations were introduced into the court proceedings by expert witness Dr. Steven Shafer, and were instrumental in the eventual sentencing of Conrad Murray. Those violations were as follows:
- The lack of the basic emergency airway equipment.
- The lack of the advanced emergency airway equipment.
- The lack of suction apparatus.
- The lack of an IV infusion pump.
- The lack of alarmed pulse oximetry.
- The failure to use a blood pressure cuff.
- The lack of an electrocardiogram.
- The lack of carpnography
- The failure to maintain a doctor-patient relationship.
- The failure to continuously monitor the mental status of the patient.
- The failure to continuously monitor the breathing of the patient.
- The failure to continuously monitor blood pressure and pulse oximetry, and to have heart monitors.
- The failure to call 911 immediately.
- The failure to chart at the outset of the procedure (egregious and unconscionable).
- The failure to maintain written informed consent (egregious and unconscionable).
- The failure to document throughout the course of sedation (egregious and unconscionable).
- The failure to disclose to both the paramedics and UCLA the use of propofol and what Murray witnessed at the arrest.
Murray’s televised sentencing was handed down with one of the harshest admonitions from a judge I have ever heard.
And yet, for all of this, the media treatment of Conrad Murray has been frustratingly mixed to sympathetic. Mostly he has been handled with kid gloves. Often portrayed as a remorseless egomaniac and sociopath at the height of the trial, public memory-as well as that of the media-has been disturbingly short sighted in regard to this man’s crimes. While other convicted criminals are lambasted for even a hint of profiting off their crimes, no one in the past two years seems to have any qualms about giving Conrad Murray a platform. Part of this stems from the fact that the media, from the time of Jackson’s death, has persisted in casting his death into the same narrative as other drug related celebrity deaths, rather than as a homicide per se. In this way, it becomes much easier to blame the victim for his own demise, or to say, “Well, if it hadn’t been Conrad Murray it would have been somebody else.” But to make these kinds of arguments is to ignore the facts of this case. Let’s not cast aside the reasons this man was investigated, charged, put on trial and convicted in the first place. The medical coroner had ruled, after the initial investigation, that Michael Jackson could not possibly have self-administered the lethal injection that killed him. Judge Pastor stated clearly at the time of Murray’s sentencing that this was not a mere case of medical malpractice, nor was it a simple case of “Oops, I made a mistake.” This was a complete violation of even the minimum standards of medical care, and of reckless action that led directly to a loss of life.
And let’s not forget this was the man who had to be severely chastised by Judge Pastor during the time he was on trial for releasing a documentary to MSNBC that he said would “tell his side of the story and clear his name.” The problem was that Murray had refused to testify under oath at his own trial. A defendant has that right, of course. But many interpreted this refusal as a sign that he did not want to be cross examined, perhaps knowing his story would not hold up under cross examination. He also refused to testify during Katherine Jackson’s trial against AEG, even though doing so could have possibly exonerated him if indeed there was more to tell and he truly was just a fall guy, as many believed and as he himself has hinted on many occasions. Yet in every instance, Conrad Murray swore to silence. One reason his MSNBC documentary Michael Jackson & The Doctor: A Fatal Friendship was so severely chastised by Judge Pastor was for that very reason. It seemed a cheesy exploitation by Conrad Murray to tell his side of the story without the risks of testifying in court, under oath. Four years later, he is still up to the same old tricks-only this time with the benefit of a publicist on his side. This man only talks when dollar signs beckon. And in the two years since he was prematurely released due to “overcrowding and good behavior” he has been taking advantage of the media’s short memories to once again peddle himself as a poor innocent caught in the middle of the hailstorm that was Michael Jackson’s chaotic life.
That trend just reached a new nadir this week with the pending release of Murray’s long threatened “tell all” memoir This Is It for which apparently he is being compensated quite handsomely by UK rags The Daily Mirror and The Sunday Mirror (and, of course, it goes without saying that these “revelations” are then going to be picked up and spread throughout the western media).
Among some of the more outrageous claims are that Jackson wanted to marry actress Emma Watson when she was only eleven and his god daughter Harriet Lester when she was only five; that his disease vitiligo was a PR stunt, and that he and Jackson routinely visited hookers together. In the latest bit of titillation, he merely recycles an age-old tabloid rumor about Jackson having received hormone injections at thirteen to keep his voice high (I guess that explains, then, how Jackson’s natural speaking voice got so deep!). He regurgitates nonsense about Jackson wanting a brain transplant to “rid himself of unwanted memories” which sounds like something concocted straight out of the pages of The National Enquirer. I have heard on good faith that he even regurgitates long debunked tabloid myths such as Jackson sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber and that he had no nose (a fact disproven by Jackson’s autopsy report).
These kinds of stories would be almost laughable and certainly ignore-worthy as tabloid junk always is, except that Murray’s salacious stories of Jackson wanting to marry children comes hot on the heels of all those screaming false headlines regarding Jackson’s “stockpile” of child porn. Needless to say, no such “stockpile” ever existed but that is beside the point because the tabloid media does not deal in reality. It is the deliberate juxtapositioning of those damaging headlines, popping up in search engines now every single time Michael Jackson’s name is googled, that has created the near perfect picture of a dangerous child predator. Switching the focus of the sex from male to female children makes no difference, other than perhaps adding to the confusion and delusion of a public still grappling to try to understand just who exactly was this man Michael Jackson, anyway! Unfortunately, if anyone thinks they are going to get those answers from the man who first betrayed his trust and then ultimately killed him, they are sadly mistaken.
So let’s start by busting Conrad Murray’s most obvious and egregious lie. Harriet Lester was fifteen at the time of Jackson’s planned concert series in London in 2009, and Emma Watson was almost twenty. Many fans were quick to pounce on this obvious discrepancy of Murray’s story as given in the teaser article, so that by the time the first installment was printed, the story was modified to acknowledge the actual ages of Watson and Lester in 2009. However, the story then had Jackson supposedly “confessing” to Murray that he had “fallen in love” with Emma Watson back when she was in the Harry Potter movie in 2001 and with Harriet Lester from the time she was five.
Mark and Harriet Lester Responding To Murray’s Claims In A TV Interview
Shock And Universal Condemnation Of Murray Followed The Revealing Of This Audio Tape Recording In Court-But Memories Are Short
But Murray’s story does have some precedence, which could have been the possible genesis for Murray’s claims. They are in many ways remarkably similar to Jackson’s own account of his early infatuation with Lisa Marie Presley (they first met at a Jackson 5 show in Las Vegas when she was seven and he was seventeen) and as he revealed candidly in their interview with Diane Sawyer, he never quite forgot her even though he didn’t press for a formal introduction until she was eighteen (Lisa Marie was 26 when she married Jackson in 1994). The only thing he told Diane Sawyer about their early childhood meeting was that “I thought she was sweet” and obviously he never forgot her-but there was no romance until their friendship was rekindled in adulthood in the early 1990s.
In The Couple’s 1995 Interview With Diane Sawyer, Jackson Talked About His Early Infatuation With Lisa Marie
I’m not bringing this up to lend credibility to Murray’s story ― far from it. I’m only offering it as a means of providing some much needed context for these ridiculous claims. Judging from all of the media reports I have seen, Murray’s book appears to be nothing but a bunch of outright fabrications and, at best, half-cocked theories and speculations he formed in his own mind during the very brief time he was serving as Jackson’s physician. For example, the story that Jackson received hormone injections at thirteen to delay puberty was spun in some of the headlines as if Murray was presenting an actual fact he had learned first hand from Jackson himself (for the record, that has been one of the oldest tabloid stories circulated about Michael Jackson, and Murray knows this). But upon actually reading the content, it turns out that Jackson never told Murray any such thing at all. Murray only intimates that Jackson started to tell him about something very traumatic that had happened to him in his teens but then shut down and didn’t say more (probably, we can assume, his better intuition telling him this was a snake not to be trusted). So, in the absence of whatever it was Jackson might have intended to tell him, it is Conrad Murray who then draws his own conclusions that this traumatic event Jackson intimated must have been ― yep, you guessed it! ― hormone treatments!
Except there is a huge problem with this theory. As it turns out, the type of injections Murray was referring to did not even exist until 1985! It seems Murray may be basing his claims off of a story that circulated from a French doctor in 2011 but even Alain Branchereau’s theory is a fallible one. For starters, Jackson’s autopsy report confirmed he was male. Granted, chemical castration would have still left him physically intact, perhaps rendering the autopsy report a moot argument. But there are other gaping holes in this theory as well. For example, none of these theories seem to take into account that such treatments would have also stunted his physical growth (Jackson, as we know, grew to a normal height of 5’9 for an adult male). Such theories also fail to take into account that Jackson’s natural speaking voice was not unnaturally high, even though he adopted a high speaking voice early in his adult career as a kind of affectation. In Jackson’s mature years, he tended to use his natural speaking voice a lot more in public. Listen, for example, to his speaking voice during his speech at his Superbowl halftime performance in 1993 and to his spoken segment during this concert clip of “In the Closet” from 1996
We also have evidence of him singing in this much lower register, which he used on several recordings.
“2,000 Watts” Was A Track Recorded For Jackson’s Invincible Album In Which He Sings In His Natural Register
Additionally, we have the statements of many of his friends and close associates who were often “tricked” by Jackson’s ability to speak in an uncharacteristically low voice (one of his favorite pranks, it has been said, was to answer the phone or his intercom with a shockingly deep “Hello”). And lastly, even Conrad Murray’s own recording of Jackson speaking was partly so shocking to many because the voice-according to many journalists who listened to the tape- sounded more like Joe Jackson than that of Michael Jackson! But the most damaging hole in this theory, aside from the fact that such hormone treatments did not yet even exist when Jackson was thirteen, is that the voices of real castratos sound nothing like the adult Michael Jackson! By contrast to the voices of real castratos, Jackson’s was merely the voice of a normal, adult male singer with a three octave range, similar to that of Roy Orbison, Barry Gibb and other male singers who tend to favor their higher range. To put it shortly, the voice that gave us “Billie Jean” and “Dirty Diana” was definitely no castrato!
The Voice Of An Actual Castrato Bears No Resemblance To The Voice That Gave Us “Billie Jean”:
But in reading between the lines, the whole book seems to come across just that way, with Murray merely drawing his own conclusions and speculations about every aspect of Jackson’s life, almost as if he entered Jackson’s life with a mindset that had already been shaped by every tabloid story he had ever read-and then merely looked for anything that appeared to confirm them. Additionally, while I do not doubt that Jackson probably did grow close to Murray and may have confided to him on occasion-after all, this was the man responsible for putting him to sleep every night for two months-it is highly doubtful they were as close as Murray claims. Murray, after all, was hired to do a job. He was not Jackson’s BFF, no more than were his security guards or any other member of his staff. Conrad Murray, it would seem, has simply fallen under the same delusion that characterizes so many of those who came and went during Jackson’s life, all of whom (even if their acquaintance was for all of five minutes) became convinced they were his closest friend and confidante.
If anything, Javon Beard and Bill Whitfield, Jackson’s hired security during this period, were a lot closer to him than Conrad Murray. As his hired security, it was they, for example, who were responsible for his excursions if he wanted to go out on the town (and, indeed, they described in their own book, Remember The Time, how they often assisted him in setting up his secret dates and rendezvous with women at various hotels; this part is not total fabrication, but these were apparently prearranged dates with women he knew well; not random strip club excursions). To say that Jackson frequented strip clubs and visited hookers is not in itself particularly damning, truth be told; this would make him no different than all the other hordes of male musicians who have historically and routinely indulged in groupies and casual sexual excursions, and I highly doubt there is anyone who would think less of him as an artist or man for such human foibles. But as to whether these excursions actually happened, much less that Murray accompanied him, remain debatable hearsay at best. While Jackson often did don disguises to go out in public (this is not exactly secret stuff here!) it would seem there is no real purpose for dishing such stories publicly except for the goal of embarrassment.
Conrad Murray also claims in his book that Michael Jackson lied about having vitiligo, the skin disease that turned him “white.” Of course, he refers to the “bleaching cream” Jackson used and that he witnessed Jackson using during the time he was with him. However, all of this information came out during Murray’s trial and it is no secret what Jackson was using. The “cream” that Conrad Murray keeps referring to- as if it is some deep, guarded, mysterious secret ― is simply monobenzone, better known by its brand name Benoquin, a prescription bleaching cream that is part of the treatment regimen for vitiligo sufferers who desire to even out their splotchy skin tone. The question of whether Jackson did or did not have this disease should have been laid to rest when it, too, was confirmed via his official autopsy report. Although Jackson was very careful throughout most of his life to keep his splotchy skin hidden from public view, there can be no doubt-judging from many of the photos that have circulated both before and since his passing-that something was definitely amiss with Jackson’s skin. While he usually managed to keep his face, hands and other exposed areas an even tone, his torso, legs and other areas normally hidden beneath clothing revealed a different story.
However, there are still some who stubbornly cling to the theory that the discoloration of Jackson’s skin must have nevertheless been due to some kind of self-induced chemical vitiligo, perhaps brought on by years of abusing creams like Benoquin to achieve the desired effect. However, such theories are neither medically feasible nor credible. Michael Jackson did not simply become “white” like a caucasian. Those who ever met or saw him in person have described his skin invariably as being “paper white” and translucent (Oprah Winfrey stated that you could see straight through to the blue veins). He could not be in direct sunlight. These are all indicative of someone with vitiligo who routinely uses monobenzone to treat the condition.
Benoquin was prescribed to Jackson to treat his vitiligo. He had been using the cream since the late 1980s when all other methods of treating and controlling the disease’s advancement had failed.
Benoquin can only be prescribed to those with vitiligo, and what’s more, is only effective for those already afflicted with vitiligo! Earlier this year, a very informative article by John E. Harris was posted on the Vitiligo Clinic & Research Center website which should certainly clear up the mystery, lest there remain any lingering doubt as to why Michael Jackson was using Benoquin. For Murray, a physician, to claim ignorance about this drug is unconscionable.
Lastly, Murray’s current claims completely contradict this statement he gave to police right after Jackson’s death:
I could go on debunking all of the lies of Conrad Murray’s book that have been circulating lately in the media, but I think where we really have to look is beyond those salacious headlines to the real source of the problem, and that is the fact that this man is being given a platform at all in which to dish dirt on his patient and victim.
Even from jail, Conrad Murray was often granted interviews by the likes of TMZ and CNN. In 2013, he was issued a cease and desist letter from the estate of Michael Jackson warning that legal action would be taken against him if he continued in his pursuit of profiting off his crime against Mr. Jackson.
The letter followed a particularly tasteless interview in November of 2013 in The Daily Mail, in which Murray repeatedly violated doctor/patient confidentiality (and HIPPA laws) by disclosing indiscreet details about Jackson’s issues with incontinence and other private details that should never have gone beyond the room where they occurred.
Conrad Murray’s actions, both past and current, are clearly a violation of both HIPPA laws and the Son Of Sam law which prohibits convicted criminals from making a profit from their crimes, particularly in the form of books, movies or paid interviews to discuss the crime or the victim. In this case, however, Murray has found several convenient loopholes that have enabled him to sneakily circumvent these troublesome issues. For starters, Michael Jackson was a public figure, and a public figure for whom many “tell all” books have already been written by former friends, associates, employees, girlfriends, and just about every other type of hanger-on one could imagine-including, yes, other doctors. The Son of Sam law, unfortunately, is very narrowly defined in its legal definition. It only means that a convicted criminal cannot profit directly from his or her crime. There is nothing stating, however, that he or she cannot discuss events prior to the crime, or their relationship with the deceased. Also, it is primarily a United States law that doesn’t necessarily extend to all countries. In Murray’s case, it seems he has conveniently circumvented that troublesome issue by finding a publisher outside of the United States in Australia. He has also circumvented these legalities by latching onto an Australian publicist, Max Markson, a man apparently so desperate for clients in order to salvage his troubled business that even the prospect of taking on a convicted killer with a cease and desist order against him has no fazing effect. But then, Markson was also the same publicist who tried inanely last year to profit off the video of the police shooting of Walter Scott!
The story now takes on an even more disturbing twist. Last week, Michael Jackson’s fans and family were outraged to learn that Markson is in talks with ITV to land his client a spot on the U.K. reality TV show “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!” For those unfamiliar with the premise, “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here” is a “Survivor”-esque premise that places several “D” list celebrities in a remote locale, where they must overcome many obstacles and challenges in order to keep from being voted off each week. The experience also tests their abilities to work well with their fellow contestants, and as an aside, provides plenty of opportunities for the cast members to fight, vent, and ultimately bond with each other-as well as the viewing audience. In the past, the show has provided many opportunities for formerly disgraced celebrities and politicians to somewhat redeem their reputations. However, it is one thing to sign on a celebrity with a checkered past. If the talks to sign Murray go through, however, it will mark a new low for the series-the first time to feature a convicted felon whose crime was the taking of the life of a far more beloved celebrity.
To quote journalist Charles Thomson, Conrad Murray is only famous for killing someone. He is famous for the same reason that Charles Manson, Yolanda Saldivar, and Mark David Chapman are famous-which is to say, we know their names because of their crimes, and because they killed famous people. It doesn’t mean we want to see them getting paid to romp in the jungle or on a deserted island. And again, if such talks to put any of those killers on the show were even in the works, I am sure the outrage would deafen the ears of ITV!
Make no mistake about it, Conrad Murray killed Michael Jackson. Just because he shot a needle into him instead of bullets does not make his crime any less horrendous. Perhaps he does not deserve a prison sentence on a par with someone like Mark David Chapman or Charles Manson who committed their crimes in cold blood. But nor does that mean he should be given free reign to continue further victimizing the man he killed or his family. He certainly does not deserve to be treated like a celebrity, or to be allowed to further profit off of Michael Jackson’s name. I think most would agree that he has done enough damage already. He took the man’s life. Since that time, he has shown zero remorse for his actions and continues to bedazzle journalists everywhere with his unceasing delusions that he is still, somehow, in spite of all of this, a misunderstood hero and victim. Yet his trial revealed him to be neither.During the course of that trial, we saw a man who continuously lied about important details of the crime in order to cover his tracks, who continuously defied the Hippocratic oath, who systematically poisoned Jackson’s system every night for a solid two months, who refused to testify under oath and yet defied the orders of the court by releasing a tell-all documentary about his crime, and since then has managed by every means conceivable to continue profiting off his crime through whatever legal loopholes he can manage.
Conrad Murray’s motivation is abundantly clear. The death of Michael Jackson cost him his medical career, his livelihood, and for a brief while, his freedom. I am sure that when he was hired as Jackson’s personal physician, he must have had delusions of grandeur about the wealth and prestige his position would bring him. Instead, Michael Jackson died on his watch. The good times for Dr. Murray came to a crashing halt-and so did the money. Since that time, he has been on an obvious campaign to “get even” for everything he seems to feel that Michael Jackson took from him. This is the equivalent of Mark David Chapman stating that it is John Lennon’s fault that his life has been ruined! Let that sink in for a minute.
The Talk Panel Rakes Conrad Murray Over The Coals:
For the media, ITV, publicists and book publishers to continue allowing him free reign to continue his campaign of vindictiveness against his victim from beyond the grave is reprehensible. To continue providing him avenues and means by which to circumvent United States laws where he is held accountable for the crime he committed here is even more unconscionable.
On second thought, why not release Charles Manson or Mark David Chapman and allow them a guest spot on “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here?” At least either of them would be far more honest, and-in the case of Manson, at least-certainly more entertaining. However, there is a good reason why these people remain behind bars. Aside from the fact that all of them still present a danger to society, it also says something about the special regard with which we hold our idols. They represent much more than just the people who have entertained us. They are the people in whom we have invested our own hopes, dreams, desires and ambitions. It is always tragic when we lose a beloved entertainer prematurely. But when we lose them due to the direct and callous actions of another, their death can trigger a lot more than just a sense of mourning. Along with that mourning comes the unfathomable anger and sense of hopelessness that this, somehow, could have been prevented. That it didn’t have to happen. Losing those we love to an act of homicide leaves more than just sorrow and shock in its wake-it also awakens a sense of justifiable bloodlust. We want to see justice served, and the last thing we are prepared to tolerate is to see these people profiting from their crimes. In one of his too many recent interviews, Conrad Murray had the gall to state that his book is a “gift” to Michael Jackson’s fans. Rest assured, the only “gift” Jackson’s fans want from this man is for him to accept responsibility for his crime and to move on with his life.