LOS ANGELES (MCT) — Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted in the death of pop star Michael Jackson, was released from Men's Central Jail at 12:01 a.m. Monday, authorities confirmed.
Upon his release, Murray, who served two years behind bars for the 2011 involuntary-manslaughter conviction, eluded a waiting scrum of TV cameras and die-hard Jackson fans.
The 60-year-old was sentenced to the maximum four-year term for his role in Jackson's death on June 25, 2009, from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, which the doctor had administered
Under state sentencing rules, Murray was eligible for parole well in advance of the end of his sentences, but he has nonetheless has endured a long ordeal since Jackson's death, said his attorney Valerie Wass.
"They didn't release him one minute early," she said, speaking outside the jail early Monday. "I'm just happy he's finally out."
Wass implored members of the media to respect Murray's privacy as he reacclimates to his life. His first priority was seeing his family, she said.
She added that she believes Murray will one day practice medicine again.
He has challenged his conviction, and that effort will continue in the state Court of Appeal, Wass said. He is seeking to have the verdict overturned because of insufficient evidence. Wass also appealed to undo the conviction on other grounds.
A Los Angeles jury this month found that concert promoter AEG Live was not liable in Jackson's death, capping a marathon civil trial that laid bare the troubled singer's health problems, struggles with drugs and fateful attempt at a comeback tour. The issues in court included who was responsible for hiring Murray and overseeing his treatment of Jackson.
Wass' claim that Murray has a contingent of "loyal" patients garnered heckling from a cluster of fans who had hoped to give Murray a piece of their minds as he walked free.
Wass turned to face the pop star's supporters.
"Do you guys mind?" she asked, her voice rising. "This group of fans isn't respecting (Jackson's) legacy."
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore, who briefly addressed reporters early Monday, offered few details about Murray's exit, except to say that he was released to "representatives," and that such releases are allowed on a "case-by-case" basis to ensure certain inmates' safety and security.
He would not confirm whether Murray was driven away in a Sheriff's Department vehicle.
The covert release riled Jackson supporters who said Murray received undue "special treatment."
Laura Sherwood, 27, said she moved from Phoenix to follow Murray's trial. She said she had hoped that Murray would show remorse.
"I just want to know why he won't admit and take responsibility for what he did," she said.
Julia Thomas said she wanted to tell Murray that "he's going to be taunted as long as he walks this earth."
Karlene Taylor, who wore a T-shirt that read "Thriller Killer" in red lettering, jumped in.
"If you go to any corner of the world," she said, "they know Michael Jackson and Jesus."
• Los Angeles Times staff writer Howard Blume contributed to this report.
(c)2013 Los Angeles Times Distributed by MCT Information Services