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Jackson's doctor found guilty of manslaughter

Michael Jackson's doctor was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star's death for supplying an insomnia-plagued Jackson with a powerful operating-room anesthetic to help him sleep as he rehearsed for his big comeback.

Dr. Conrad Murray sat stone-faced, his chin held high, as he heard the verdict that could send him to prison for up to four years and cost him his license to practice medicine. He was handcuffed and immediately led off to jail without bail to await sentencing Nov. 29.

The verdict marked the latest chapter in one of pop culture's most shocking tragedies — the 2009 drug-overdose death of the King of Pop at age 50 as he was about to mount a series of heavily promoted concerts in London that he hoped would turn his career around after a slide prompted by child-molestation allegations and years of bizarre behavior.

A shriek broke the silence in the packed courtroom when the jury's decision was read, and the crowd outside the courthouse erupted in cheers. Jubilant Jackson fans sang "Beat It" and held signs that read "Guilty" and "Killer." Drivers honked their horns.

Members of Jackson's family wept, and his mother, Katherine Jackson, said, "I feel better now." His sister La Toya said she was overjoyed and added: "Michael was looking over us."

Members of the jury were escorted from the building and not available for comment.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff said later in the day the verdict was a disappointment and would be appealed. Asked how Murray took the verdict, Chernoff said, "He's a pretty strong guy."

Regarding Murray's future, he said, "The keys to his handcuffs belong to the judge. We certainly would like to do anything we can to keep him from going to prison."

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    Image: Fans show off their t-shirts before the sentencing hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray in Los Angeles

    Michael Jackson death trial

    Fans of the late King of Pop and supporters of the doctor charged in his death converge outside an L.A. courthouse.

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    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.

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    Remembering Michael

    A Michael Jackson fan carries a placard outside the Los Angeles courthouse where the sentencing of Dr. Conrad Murray took place.

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    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.

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  • Image: Michael Jackson fans outside the Apollo theatre in the Harlem section of New York City react to the reading of the verdict in Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in Los Angeles

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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  • Image: LaToya Jackson arrives with Rick and Kathy Hilton for the reading of the verdict in Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in Los Angeles

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    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.

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    King of Pop's court

    Fans mingle outisde the Los Angeles Criminal Courts buillding on Friday, Nov. 4.

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  • Image: 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

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    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.

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    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.

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  • Image: An airplane tows a banner over the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building during Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles

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    Sky high message

    An airplane tows a banner over the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building on Thursday, Sept. 29.

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  • Image: A demonstrator stands outside the Los Angeles Superior Court during the opening day of Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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  • Image: A demonstrator with tattoos of Michael Jackson stands outside the Los Angeles Superior Court during the opening day of Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of Jackson in Los Angeles

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    Lasting impression

    A demonstrator with tattoos of Jackson stands outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building during the opening day of Murray's trial.

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  • Image: Beatrice Fakhrain and Michelle Shaw read bible verses during the opening day of Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles

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    In the doctor's corner

    Beatrice Fakhrain, left, and Michelle Shaw read bible verses during the opening day of Murray's trial.

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    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."

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    Seeking justice

    Jackson supporters hold signs outside the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building on Monday, Sept. 27.

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    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.

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The jury deliberated less than nine hours after a six-week trial that depicted Jackson as a tormented genius on the brink of what might have been his greatest triumph but for one impediment — extreme insomnia.

Jackson's death marked the end of an incredible rise to fame from his humble beginnings in Gary, Ind. The tiny powerhouse singer and dancer with the magnetic smile enchanted audiences and elevated the Jackson Five to the top of the pop music world.

As a solo adult act, the self-anointed King of Pop sold out concerts and topped the recording charts with albums such as 1982's "Thriller," which remains the biggest-selling album of all time, with more than 100 million copies sold worldwide.

His public life, however, eventually became a surreal depiction of the toll of celebrity. He went on wild spending sprees, married and divorced Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe, and had three children who were kept disguised in masks because he feared their kidnapping.

When he was tried and acquitted of child molestation in 2005, Jackson appeared to fall apart, moving to the Middle East and other countries in search of a new life.

The comeback concerts in London were his chance for redemption. Mindful of the physical requirements, he hired Murray as his private doctor.

Prosecutors portrayed the 58-year-old Murray as an incompetent doctor who administered propofol — an extremely potent anesthetic normally used during surgery — in Jackson's bedroom without adequate safeguards and botched his care when things went wrong.

Murray, who did not testify, told police that he administered only a small dose on the day Jackson died. And his lawyers blamed Jackson for his own death, saying the singer gave himself an extra, lethal dose while Murray wasn't watching.

Prosecutors said that theory was crazy, and in any case, they argued, Murray should not have left Jackson alone.

The jury was not asked to determine whether Murray actually gave Jackson the fatal dose, only whether he was primarily responsible for the singer's death.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren extended his sympathies to the Jackson family, who "lost not a pop icon, but a son and a father."

In Las Vegas, a former Murray patient and current friend, Donna DiGiacomo, sobbed and said the jury was under "overwhelming pressure to convict."

"This man didn't deserve this. They needed a scapegoat," said DiGiacomo, a former Long Island, N.Y., teacher's aide who said she didn't believe Murray did anything to intentionally harm Jackson.

Testimony came from medical experts, household employees and Murray's former girlfriends, among others. The most shocking moments, however, came when prosecutors displayed a large picture of Jackson's gaunt, lifeless body on a hospital gurney and played his drugged, slurred voice, as recorded by Murray just weeks before the singer's death.

Jackson talked about his hope of cementing a legacy larger than that of Elvis Presley or the Beatles.

"We have to be phenomenal," he said about his "This Is It" concerts in London. "When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world.'"

Craving sleep, Jackson had searched for a doctor who would give him the intravenous propofol that Jackson called his "milk" and believed to be his salvation. Other medical professionals turned him down, according to testimony.

Prosecutors said Murray abandoned his medical judgment for money. According to testimony, Jackson planned to pay the cardiologist $150,000 a month for an extended tour in Europe.

Murray gave up his practices in Houston and Las Vegas and agreed to travel with Jackson and be his personal physician indefinitely. For six weeks, as Jackson undertook strenuous rehearsals, Murray infused him with propofol every night, the doctor told police. He said he later tried to wean Jackson from the drug because he feared he was becoming addicted.

In the end, the doctor was never paid a penny because Jackson died before signing a contract with Murray.

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    MICHAEL JACKSON

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    1972

    Michael Jackson, 13, was the youngest member of the Jackson 5.

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    Michael Jackson of the Jackson 5 during the 1977 American Music Awards.

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    Michael Jackson won three American Music Awards in 1980.

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    Michael Jackson is seen backstage at the 26th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 1984.

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    Michael Jackson appears at the American Cinema Award gala on Jan. 9, 1987, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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    Michael Jackson as seen in New York in 1992.

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    Michael Jackson performs during a show at the National Stadium in Singapore during his 1993 "Dangerous" tour.

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    Michael Jackson smiles for cameras at the announcement of nominations for the 1995 MTV Video Awards in New York City on July 25, 1995.

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    Michael Jackson gives an interview to the Associated Press in Detroit on July 8, 1998.

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    Michael Jackson arrives at the G & P Foundation for Cancer Research's Angel Ball on Nov. 30, 2000, in New York.

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    Michael Jackson arrives at the University of Oxford Union in Oxford, England, on March 6, 2001.

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    Michael Jackson appeared at Al Sharpton's National Action Network headquarters in the Harlem neighborhood of New York on July 9, 2002.

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    Michael Jackson speaks at a news conference after his arraignment in his child molestation case at the Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse, on April 30, 2004.

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    Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County courthouse in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 27, 2005.

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    Michael Jackson poses in Los Angeles on Nov. 8, 2007.

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    Michael Jackson at a press conference in London on March 5, 2009.

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The circumstances of Jackson's death on June 25, 2009, were as bizarre as any chapter in the superstar's sensational life story.

During the last 24 hours of his life, Jackson sang and danced at a spirited rehearsal, reveling in the adulation of fans who greeted him outside. Testimony showed Murray gave Jackson intravenous doses that night of the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam. Jackson also took a Valium pill. But nothing seemed to bring sleep.

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    Michael Jackson in a Butterfly Collar Shirt

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    Little boy Michael

    Jackson was just 12 when this picture was taken in May 1971, but his career was already stratospheric. Berry Gordy had signed the Jackson 5 to Motown Records in 1968, and Michael and his brothers had already topped the charts with "ABC" and "I'll Be There." It was a bright start for the boy from Gary, Ind.

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    Signs of success

    Michael Jackson, far left, and the rest of the Jackson Five; the five brothers from Indiana were signed to Berry Gordy's Motown record label pose in 1972.

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    The Jackson 5 performs in Los Angeles on a 1970s Bob Hope TV special. Michael continued to front the band, but his solo career was already on the rise, starting with 1971's "Got to Be There."

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    A wonderful Wiz

    Michael Jackson at the opening of "The Wiz." The 1978 movie musical was the first time Michael worked with legendary producer Quincy Jones, who would soon produce Jackson's breakout solo album, "Off the Wall," and eventually the "Thriller" album as well. Jackson's "Wiz" co-star was friend and mentor Diana Ross, who had introduced the world to the Jackson 5 back in 1969.

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    Wanna be startin' somethin'?

    Michael Jackson performs in concert during a 1981 tour with his brothers. During the tour Michael began writing down ideas for a solo project that blossomed into the highest-selling album of all time.

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    Michael Jackson and Diana Ross hold their American Music Awards in L.A. Jackson won for favorite soul album and Ross won for favorite female soul vocalist.

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    Fright night

    Michael Jackson stands with a group of dancers dressed as zombies while filming his 1983 video "Thriller." "Thriller" was revolutionary in the music industry. The zombie-themed minimovie put MTV on the map and essentially confirmed music videos as an art form of their own. The album sold 25 million copies in the United States alone.

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    Michael Jackson performs the moonwalk for the first time on television's "Motown 25," a tribute to Berry Gordy. The dance move that would become Michael's trademark stunned viewers and the crowd, and marked his imminent crowning as the King of Pop.

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    Handfuls of glory

    With Quincy Jones at his side, Michael Jackson holds six of the eight awards he won for "Thriller" at the 1984 Grammy Awards. His outfit, complete with epaulettes, sequined glove and dark shades, became a quintessential Michael look.

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    Role model

    During a May 1984 ceremony at the White House, Michael Jackson accepts a Presidential Award from President Reagan as First Lady Nancy Reagan looks on. Jackson was honored as a model for American youth, and for lending his hit song "Beat It" to a new campaign against drunk driving.

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    A scary day

    Michael Jackson, background, is seen with his hair on fire during a taping of a Pepsi TV commercial in Los Angeles on February 1984 as brother Jermaine Jackson, foreground, continues to perform, apparently unaware of the situation.

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    LONDON-1985: Michael Jackson is lead through a crowd by policeman on a promotionial tour of Great Britain in London.(Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)UK NEWSPAPERS OUT WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT FROM DAVE HOGAN. PLEASE CONTACT SALES TEAM WITH ENQUIRIES

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    They were the world

    In January 1985, a who's-who of the music and movie worlds came together to sing "We Are The World," written to benefit famine victims in Ethiopia. Michael Jackson can be seen front and center, along with Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor, and dozens of other stars. Michael's sister Janet can be seen bottom right.

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    Victory lap

    Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, left, makes a July 1984 guest appearance during Michael Jackson's Victory Tour concert in Irving, Texas. Van Halen had recorded the now immortal guitar riff on "Beat It," to the displeasure of bandmate David Lee Roth, but to the delight of nearly everyone else.

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    Who's bad?

    Michael Jackson and his dancers in concert during a 1987 Tokyo concert on Jackson's "Bad" tour. The previous year, he had starred in the 3-D film "Captain EO," one of the most expensive short films ever. But Jackson had begun to draw more criticism as his albums and videos grew costlier and more infrequent. His next album, "Dangerous," wouldn't arrive until 1991.

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    A difficult year

    A cameraman photographs Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey in January 1993. This was the year Jackson was first accused of child molestation, and he took an opportunity on a 90-minute Oprah TV special to address the charges. The criminal allegations eventually were dropped, but Jackson reportedly paid as much as $25 million to settle the claims.

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    Michael Jackson gives a performance with 30,000 children during the Super Bowl XXVIII halftime show, on January 31, 1993, in Pasadena, Calif. Despite allegations against him, Jackson's career had regained momentum with hits like "Black or White" and "Remember the Time," and the "Dangerous" album was a multi-platinum seller.

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    Michael Jackson and French mime Marcel Marceau clowning for the cameras at the Beacon Theatre in New York on Dec. 4, 1995.

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    Power marriage

    Michael Jackson and his wife Lisa Marie Presley are seen at Neverland Ranch in preparation of the Children's World Summit in April 1995. Presley would file for divorce less than a year later, prompting speculation about just what had inspired the relationship.

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    Michael Jackson performs on stage during is "HIStory" world tour concert at Ericsson Stadium in November 1996 in Auckland, New Zealand.

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    Marriage 2.0

    Just months after his divorce from Lisa Marie, Michael Jackson walked back up the aisle with Debbie Rowe. This wedding photo was released by Jackson's publicist minutes after the Nov. 13, 1996, ceremony in Sydney, Australia. But the pairing was less about romance and more about bearing Jackson a child, and the two would divorce three years later, with Rowe eventually ceding parental rights to Jackson.

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    Best of friends

    Michael Jackson and actress Elizabeth Taylor arrive at a Sept. 7, 2001, concert celebrating the 30 years of Jackson's career. The two stars had been longtime friends, and Taylor is godmother to two of Michael's children.

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    (FILES) Photo dated November 13, 2002 shows US entertainer Michael Jackson testifying in Santa Maria, Calif. Superior Court in a trial in which he is accused of cancelling concert appearances, costing the promoter several million dollars.

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    One big mistake

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    Arresting development

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    Family support

    Michael, center, and sisters LaToya, left and Janet Jackson walk over to greets fans during a lunch break at a pretrial hearing in Santa Maria, Calif. in this Aug. 16, 2004 file photo.

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    MJ's PJs

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    Singin' with the kids

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    Fans in uniform

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    Father figure

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    Concert tour planned

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    Reaching for redemption

    Jackson, center, is shown in Los Angeles on May 6 during rehearsals for his planned concert tour in London. "He was on the eve of potentially redeeming his career a little bit," said Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde. "People might have started to think of him again in a different light."

    Discuss the life and impact of Michael Jackson in PhotoBlog.

    Courtesy of Michael Jackson via / Courtesy of Michael Jackson via

Finally, Murray told police, he gave the singer a small dose of propofol — 25 milligrams — that seemed to put him to sleep. The doctor said he felt it was safe to leave his patient's bedside for a few minutes, but Jackson was not breathing when he returned. Witnesses said he was most likely dead at that point.

What happened next was a matter of dispute during the trial. Security and household staff described Murray as panicked, never calling 911 but trying to give Jackson CPR on his bed instead of on the firm floor. A guard said Murray was concerned with packing up and hiding medicine bottles and IV equipment before telling him to call 911.

There is no law against administering propofol or the other sedatives. But expert witnesses for the prosecution said that using propofol at home without lifesaving equipment on hand was an egregious deviation from the standard of medical care. Prosecutors called it gross negligence, the legal basis for an involuntary manslaughter charge.

In the upcoming documentary "Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship," Murray reveals details of his relationship with the pop star. The program airs Friday night at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC. (TODAY.com is powered by msnbc.com, which is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

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