The grueling, five-month trial to determine whether or not concert promoter A.E.G. Live will be held responsible for Michael Jackson's 2009 death has come to a close. The company has been cleared—and won't be saddled with up to $1.5 billion in damages, a rough estimate of what Jackson could have earned since 2009.
But it isn't quite so simple. As CNN reports, the California jury concurred with lawyers for Michael Jackson's mother that A.E.G. hired Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician who gave Jackson the anesthetic that killed him, to attend to the pop star at all times. But they disagreed with arguments that Murray was incompetent in his role as Jackson suffered the physical and psychological effects of a demanding rehearsal schedule.
Which, of course, may seem confusing, since Murray was already found guilty for involuntary manslaughter in 2011 and has been in prison for two years. But this verdict—for a civil trial—does not affect Murray's criminal conviction. Murray, who is scheduled to be released later this month, is nonetheless "relieved" by the outcome:
"I cried because, for once, the world was allowed to hear some of the facts at they pertain to this matter—a lot of facts that have been suppressed, much of which I was denied and my attorneys could not present during my criminal trial," Dr. Conrad Murray said on NBC's "Today" on Thursday.
So are the jurors, presumably, to be finished with a trial that forced them to confront some of the most disturbing evidence pertaining to Jackson's untimely death. As The New York Times reports:
Jurors were shown photographs of Jackson’s naked corpse on an autopsy table, and witnesses described the star as chronically missing rehearsals and sometimes appearing dazed and emaciated. A paramedic who came to Jackson’s rented home in Los Angeles after a 911 call the morning he died said that Jackson had been so pale and thin that he assumed the star was a hospice patient “at the end of a long disease process.” [ . . . ] On the stand, Mrs. Jackson said tearfully that A.E.G. Live had “watched him waste away.”
The question that remains, then, is whether this could conclude years of painful legal wrangling to assign blame for Jackson's death. Unfortunately, it won't. Murray is still in the process of appealing his own criminal conviction, and Jackson's family's lawyers were reportedly plotting a possible appeal before learning of the verdict. The battle rages on.
All photos: Associated Press