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updated 11/29/2011 8:57:12 PM ET 2011-11-30T01:57:12

It was clear that Michael Jackson's doctor was going to get the maximum four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter before the judge even finished speaking.

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In a nearly half-hour tongue lashing, Dr. Conrad Murray was denounced as a greedy, remorseless physician who committed a "horrific violation of trust" and killed the King of Pop during an experiment.

"Dr. Murray created a set of circumstances and became involved in a cycle of horrible medicine," Judge Michael Pastor said in a stern voice.

Video: Murray: Jackson was ‘deceptive’ and ‘desperate’ (on this page)

Pastor said Murray sold out his profession for a promised fee of $150,000 a month when he agreed to give Jackson a powerful anesthetic every night as an unorthodox cure for insomnia.

Murray will likely serve less than two years in county jail, not state prison, because of California's overcrowded prisons and jails. Sheriff's officials said he will be housed in a one-man cell and be kept away from other inmates.

The tall, imposing Murray, who has been in jail for three weeks, was allowed to change into street clothes — a charcoal gray suit and white shirt — for court. But he wore prison issue white socks and soft slippers.

Jackson's family said in a statement read in court that they were not seeking revenge but a stiff sentence for Murray that served as a warning to opportunistic doctors. Afterward, they said they were pleased with the judge's sentence.

"We're going to be a family. We're going to move forward. We're going to tour, play the music and miss him," brother Jermaine Jackson said.

After sentencing, Murray mouthed the words "I love you" to his mother and girlfriend in the courtroom. Murray's mother, Milta Rush, sat alone on a bench in the courthouse hallway.

Video: Murray sentenced to four years (on this page)

"My son is not what they charged him to be," she said quietly. "He was a gentle child from the time he was small."

Of her son's future, she said, "God is in charge."

Murray, 58, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a six-week trial that presented the most detailed account yet of Jackson's final hours, a story of the performer's anguish over being unable to sleep.

Pastor was relentless in his bashing of Murray, saying the physician lied repeatedly and abandoned Jackson when he was at his most vulnerable — under the anesthesia that Murray administered in an unorthodox effort to induce sleep.

"It should be made very clear that experimental medicine is not going to be tolerated, and Mr. Jackson was an experiment," he said.

Propofol is supposed to be used in hospital settings and has never been approved for sleep treatments, yet Murray acknowledged giving it to Jackson then leaving the room on the day the singer died.

Slideshow: Michael Jackson’s life and career (on this page)

As for defense arguments that Jackson tempted his own fate when he demanded propofol, Pastor said, "Dr. Murray could have walked away and said no as countless others did. But Dr. Murray was intrigued with the prospect of this money for medicine madness."

Pastor said Murray was motivated by a desire for "money, fame and prestige" and cared more about himself than Jackson.

The doctor was deeply in debt when he agreed to serve as Jackson's personal physician for $150,000 a month during his comeback tour. The singer, however, died before Murray received any money.

"There are those who feel Dr. Murray is a saint and those who feel he is the devil," Pastor said. "He is neither. He is a human being who caused the death of another human being."

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff implored Pastor to look at Murray's life and give him credit for a career of good works. "I do wonder whether the court considers the book of a man's life, not just one chapter," Chernoff said.

The judge responded: "I accept Mr. Chernoff's invitation to read the whole book of Dr. Murray's life. But I also read the book of Michael Jackson's life, including the sad final chapter of Dr. Murray's treatment of Michael Jackson."

Chernoff suggested that Murray is being punished enough by the stigma of having caused Jackson's death. "Whether Dr. Murray is a barista or a greeter at Walmart, he is still the man that killed Michael Jackson," he said.

A probation report released after sentencing said Murray was listed as suicidal and mentally disturbed in jail records before his sentencing. However, Murray's spokesman Mark Fierro said a defense attorney visited the cardiologist in jail last week and found him upbeat.

The judge said one of the most disturbing aspects of Murray's case was a slurred recording of Jackson recovered from the doctor's cellphone. His speech was barely intelligible and Murray would say later Jackson was under the influence of propofol.

Pastor suggested Murray might have been planning to use it to blackmail Jackson if there was a falling out between them. "That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy," Pastor said.

Defense attorneys never explained in court why he recorded Jackson six weeks before his death. In the recording, Jackson talked about the importance of making his shows on the comeback tour "phenomenal."

Jackson's death in June 2009 stunned the world, as did the ensuing investigation that led to Murray being charged in February 2010.

Murray declined to testify during his trial but did participate in a documentary in which he said he didn't consider himself guilty of any crime and blamed Jackson for entrapping him into administering the propofol doses.

"Yikes," the judge said. "Talk about blaming the victim!"

Slideshow: Slideshow: Jackson's fans at courthouse (on this page)

Murray's attorneys presented 34 letters from relatives, friends and former patients to win a lighter sentence. They described Murray's compassion as a doctor, including accepting lower payments from his mostly poor patients.

In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited Murray's statements to advocate for the maximum term. They also want him to pay restitution to the singer's three children — Prince, Paris and Blanket.

The exact amount Murray has to pay will be determined at a hearing in January.

In the meantime, sheriff's officials said Murray will serve a little less than two years behind bars. A recent change in California law requires Murray to serve his sentence in county jail rather than state prison.

District Attorney Steve Cooley said he was considering asking Pastor to modify the sentence to classify the crime as a serious felony warranting incarceration in state prison.

"This is going to be a real test of our criminal justice system to see if it's meaningful at all," Cooley said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Conrad Murray may not serve full sentence

  1. Closed captioning of: Conrad Murray may not serve full sentence

    >>> years, that was the sentence given to dr. conrad murray on tuesday in the death of michael jackson and before learning his fate, murray faced some harsh words from the judge in the case. in a moment we'll talk exclusively to the prosecutors in the case, but first, nbc's kristen dahlgren is in los angeles this morning with the latest. kristen , good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, savannah. yes, dr. conrad murray is behind bars this morning. it quaent' a big surprise to many that he got that maximum sentence. the district attorney admits he's not sure how much time he'll serve because of california's new legislation to ease prison overcrowding.

    >> four years.

    >> yeah!

    >> reporter: the sentence drew cheers from michael jackson fans outside the courthouse. conrad murray didn't speak on his own behalf, but the judge specifically referenced both murray 's participation in the documentary " michael jackson and

    the doctor: a fatal friendship."

    >> and i told security to get the kids away from there.

    >> reporter: and his interview with savannah on "today" as evidence that murray refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

    >> do you feel guilty that he died?

    >> i don't feel guilty, because i did not do anything wrong.

    >> he has absolutely no sense of remorse, absolutely no sense of fault, and is and remains dangerous.

    >> reporter: the defense team argued that the likely loss of murray 's medical license and reputation should be punishment enough.

    >> whether he's a barista for the rest of his life, whether he's a greeter at walmart, he's still going to be the man that killed michael jackson .

    >> reporter: while prosecutors urged the judge to consider michael jackson 's family.

    >> when michael jackson was at his most vulnerable, dr. murray left him alone to die.

    >> reporter: the judge also said he was especially troubled by that recording murray made of a barely coherent michael jackson .

    >> i've never seen nothing like this in my life. go, go.

    >> reporter: murray 's defense team criticized the judge's ruling and hinted that they'll appeal.

    >> was he harsh of -- yes, of course he was harsh. he gave the stiffest penalty that he was entitled to give under the law.

    >> reporter: but because of prison overcrowding, murray may end up serving only a small fraction of his official sentence, and he'll do that time in county jail instead of state prison .

    >> conrad murray is not going to serve more than two years and very likely going to serve much less than even one year in the county jail .

    >> reporter: no matter how much time he ends up serving in jail, jackson's family says murray 's punishment pales in comparison with all they've lost.

    >> that is not enough. my son's gone. i'll never see him again.

    >> reporter: as for how much money dr. murray may have to pay the jackson family , prosecutored asked for more than $100 million in restitution and funeral costs. the judge said he will decide that at a hearing in january. savannah.

    >> kristen dahlgren, thank you. david walgren and deborah brazile prosecuted dr. murray , good morning to both of you.

    >> good morning.

    >> let's start with this, remarks by the judge. i mean, i haven't seen anything like it, more than 24 minutes , he essentially gave your closing argument all over again. were you surprised at how harsh his tone was? he really gave a dressing down to dr. murray .

    >> he was not surprised. he had sat through the entire trial, heard all the evidence, one of the most informed people in regard to the facts of its case and being aware of all the facts and all the evidence he was rightfully offended by the actions of conrad murray and he was expressing that.

    >> people ask themselves gosh, i wonder if there could have been a more serious charge, charged women had something like second-degree murder given the state of the evidence and how the jurors and judge have reacted to it. did you ever consider a higher charge?

    >> there was a process within our office where all the potential charges were considered, involved multiple people, lawyers, going through the evidence and the facts of the case, and the decision was made through that process to charge involuntary machine slaughter which we thought was the appropriate charge.

    >> obviously the judge maxed him out, gave him four years. there were moments you thought this is a judge sounds like wished he could have given him more if he was able to and we do know the situation in california is such that he will not likely serve the full four years. as the prosecutors who tried the case, poured their lives in it. is that disappointing?

    >> no, because the judge sent the message to dr. murray as well as any other physician by imposing the actual sentence, the actual time spent behind bars is not a reflection of the seriousness of conrad murray 's conduct.

    >> do you agree with that, david ? are you disappointed to think gosh he only spent a couple of years and not get the full weight of the punishment.

    >> certainly deserves the full weight of the punishment, certainly deserves the full four years but we work within the bounds of the law, the judge sentenced him to maximum punishment and how much time he serves at the end of the day will be up to the sheriff.

    >> we did an interview with dr. conrad murray in the waning days of the trial. you mentioned it in your closing argument , the judge mentioned it, the lack of remorse. do you think that interview ultimately hurt him?

    >> i don't think it helped him. in that interview he expressed a complete lack of remorse, a complete lack of personal responsibility . he blamed it again on michael jackson , rather than himself. he explained that he was entrapped, that he, conrad murray was actually the victim and not michael jackson . i think it just showed a complete failure to recognize what he did.

    >> and at the same time, deborah , he certainly didn't testify at trial, which of course is his right but he didn't even stand up at sentencing. were you surprised at that?

    >> no, given his prior conduct and the manner in which he chose to address his feelings on his conduct. i'm not surprised at all.

    >> deborah brazil and david walgren,

Photos: Michael Jackson death trial

loading photos...
  1. Making a statement

    Fans show off T-shirts emblazoned with "Thriller Killer" before the sentencing hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray on Nov. 29, 2011. Murray was sentenced to four years behind bars after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his patient, Michael Jackson, on June 25, 2009. (Jason Redmond / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Remembering Michael

    A Michael Jackson fan carries a placard outside the Los Angeles courthouse where the sentencing of Dr. Conrad Murray took place. (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Cheering for Michael

    Michael Jackson fans react to the guilty verdict in the Dr. Conrad Murray involuntary manslaughter trial outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building. (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Delight at the Apollo

    Jackson fans outside the Apollo theatre in the Harlem section of New York react to the reading of the verdict in Murray's trial in Los Angeles. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Ready for the verdict

    Jackson's parents Joe and Katherine Jackson arrive at the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building in downtown Los Angeles to hear the verdict in the case involving their son's death. (Nick Ut / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Her verdict is already in

    A fan of Jackson holds a sign outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building during the first day of jury deliberations on Friday, Nov. 4. (Toby Canham / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. LaToya's arrival

    LaToya Jackson arrives with Rick and Kathy Hilton, the parents of Paris Hilton, rear, for the reading of the verdict in Murray's trial in Los Angeles on Monday, Nov. 7. (Jason Redmond / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. King of Pop's court

    Fans mingle outisde the Los Angeles Criminal Courts buillding on Friday, Nov. 4. (Toby Canham / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Caped crusader

    Michael Jackson supporter Jetset Hudson stands outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building during Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 29. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Her faces of death

    A woman holds placards outside the courthouse ahead of the third day of the trial of Murray on Thursday, Sept. 29. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Sky high message

    An airplane tows a banner over the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building on Thursday, Sept. 29. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Judging him to a tee

    A demonstrator stands outside the courthouse during the opening day of Murray's trial in the death of Jackson in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 27. The trial is attracting the usual media and fan spectacle associated with high-profile court proceedings in L.A. (Danny Moloshok / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The star's parents

    Jackson's parents, Katherine Jackson, left, and Joe Jackson, right rear, arrive at the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building to hear opening statements on Monday, Sept. 27. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. No sunny disposition

    Michael's sister La Toya Jackson leaves the courthouse on Monday, Sept. 27. "Michael was murdered, and although he died at the hands of Dr. Conrad Murray, I believe Dr. Murray was a part of a much larger plan," La Toya has said. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Missing Michael

    Jackson fan Bristre Clayton of Las Vegas stands outside court during the trial of Murray. The doctor has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and faces four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted. (Jason Redmond / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. For his brother

    Michael's brother Jermaine Jackson arrives at the courthouse in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 27. "I just feel like it took so long to arrest this guy," Jermaine complained last year about the legal action against Conrad Murray. (Jason Redmond / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Lasting impression

    A demonstrator with tattoos of Jackson stands outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building during the opening day of Murray's trial. (Danny Moloshok / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. In the doctor's corner

    Beatrice Fakhrain, left, and Michelle Shaw read bible verses during the opening day of Murray's trial. (Danny Moloshok / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Tough day in court

    Michael's sister and brother -- Janet and Randy Jackson -- leave the courthouse on Monday, Sept. 27. When asked this past February on TODAY if she still believed Murray was culpable, Janet replied, "Mmm-hmm. And that's all I'm going to say. I do. I really do." (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Seeking justice

    Jackson supporters hold signs outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building on Monday, Sept. 27. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. No replacing Michael

    A fan dressed as the King of Pop makes a peace sign outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building where the trial of Murray is expected to last five weeks. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Fans show off their t-shirts before the sentencing hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray in Los Angeles
    Jason Redmond / Reuters
    Above: Slideshow (21) Michael Jackson doctor trial
  2. Michael Jackson in a Butterfly Collar Shirt
    Henry Diltz / Corbis
    Slideshow (33) Michael Jackson’s life and career

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