LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson's doctor was quietly freed from jail on Monday, two years after he was convicted of killing the pop superstar with an overdose of a powerful anesthetic – and he would like to practice medicine again.
Conrad Murray was released at 12:01 a.m. from a jail in downtown Los Angeles after serving about half of his maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter. A change in California law allowed his incarceration time to be significantly reduced.
Murray was taken from the jail a back way, eluding a cluster of TV crews and a few Jackson fans. Sheriff's officials arranged the quiet exit and drove him away for safety reasons, spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
"He was elated to be out of there" and planned to spend time with his girlfriend and children, said Valerie Wass, Murray's attorney.
Murray's prospects are uncertain: At age 60 his license to practice medicine has been suspended or revoked in three states, and his face and name are well known due to his association with Jackson and his highly publicized trial.
Wass said Murray wants to be a doctor again.
"I believe that he will practice medicine again someday, somewhere," Wass said.
Brian Panish, an attorney for the Jackson family, said Murray should not have "a chance to hurt anyone else" by practicing medicine.
"He has shown no remorse and the consequences of his actions will last forever," the lawyer said.
The former cardiologist was convicted in 2011 of causing Jackson's death in June 2009 by providing him with the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid. Jackson was in the midst of preparations for a series of comeback concerts and Murray was serving as his physician.
The former doctor is appealing his conviction, although an appeals court has questioned whether it needs to hear the case. His attorney has argued that the court should not dismiss the appeal because it could alter Murray's overall sentence and reduce some of the stigma his conviction has caused.
Despite being jailed, Murray hasn't been entirely silent. The ex-doctor told the Today show that he cried tears of joy after a civil jury recently determined that the promoters of Jackson's comeback shows did not negligently hire Murray.
He did not, however, testify in the civil case or take the stand during his criminal trial.
Wass said Murray did a lot of writing behind bars, but she didn't know if he had plans for a book or any other projects that would allow him to earn a living.
Murray previously maintained clinics in Houston and Las Vegas and frequently complained about conditions in jail after his conviction. He was allowed to serve his entire sentence in a Los Angeles jail rather than a state prison due to a law aimed at easing overcrowding by shifting nonviolent offenders to local lockups.
"Dr. Murray has not received any special treatment in jail and in fact has many less privileges than most inmates because of his notoriety," Wass said in a statement earlier this year.
In a lawsuit filed by Jackson's mother against concert giant AEG Live LLC, jurors determined that Murray was not unfit or incompetent to serve as Jackson's tour doctor.
The panel did, however, say it did not condone his conduct.
"That doesn't mean we felt he was ethical," jury foreman Gregg Barden said of Murray after the AEG Live verdict.