Jackson’s doctor evades fans, as freed early from jail

LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson's former doctor Conrad Murray was released from jail Monday after serving two years of a four-year sentence for the late pop icon's death in 2009, officials said.

Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for giving Jackson the drug that killed him, evaded Jackson fans and cameramen as he left the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles shortly after midnight.

His release was brought forward due to good behaviour and prison overcrowding.

The 60-year-old physician eluded hecklers outside the jail, where a small group of Jackson fans booed his release.

"My client received the maximum term possible," said his lawyer Valerie Wass, who is expected to represent Murray in an appeal against his conviction, filed in April this year.

"This is a man that had no (criminal) prior record. He had 20 years of exemplary service as a physician... They didn't let him out a minute early," she added.

A Jackson family statement countered: "It is clear Conrad Murray... killed Michael Jackson. We hope he can never practice medicine again... and hurt another patient."

Jackson died on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol at his rented mansion in the plush Holmby Hills district west of Los Angeles.

Murray was jailed for four years in November 2011 for giving Jackson propofol to help him sleep as he rehearsed for a comeback series of concerts in London, four years after the pop star's acquittal on child molestation charges.

Earlier this month a jury rejected a civil lawsuit brought by Jackson's family, who claimed that tour promoter AEG Live negligently hired Murray, a cardiologist, to take care of the star for the doomed "This Is It" tour.

Murray's whereabouts after his release were not immediately clear.

Although he mostly escaped waiting photographers at the jail, TMZ caught up with him at a burger joint, in what it said was his "first stop" after being released.

In the pictures Murray looked significantly grayer and thinner than his last public appearance before he was jailed, as he sat at an outdoor table at an In'n'Out burger fast-food restaurant.

There has been speculation that Murray, who had financial problems even before he was hired to look after Jackson, could make money by telling his side of the story, in a book or other form.

Murray's lawyer told reporters that Murray will try to reinstate his medical licences in California, Nevada and Texas - where he was a registered doctor before Jackson's death - in order to resume his medical career.

The doctor's financial woes were details in both his own criminal trial and the civil trial pitting the Jackson family against AEG Live.

Murray was to have been paid $150,000 (S$185,600) a month to look after Jackson for the "This Is It' concerts. But he was never paid, because he was never formally hired. A copy of a contract, signed by Murray but not by AEG Live, was found in the doctor's car the day after Jackson's death.

In an interview from prison after the civil trial ended, Murray was asked what he planned to do after his release.

"I will restart my life and, God willing, I will be a model to show the world that despite adversity, and when bad things happen to good people, they can restart their life and succeed," he told the "Today" show.

Jackson fans were left disappointed and angry outside the LA jail Monday.

"I just want to know why he won't admit and take responsibility for what he did," 27-year-old Laura Sherwood, who moved from Arizona to follow Murray's trial, told the LA Times.