TODAY   |  November 30, 2011

Conrad Murray may not serve full sentence

A Los Angeles judge sentenced Conrad Murray to 4 years in prison for the death of Michael Jackson, but legal experts say Murray may not serve his time in full. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> 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,