Harriet Trudell, a former Las Vegas patient of Dr. Conrad Murray, said she became sick to her stomach Monday when she learned that the physician she credits with saving her life had been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Michael Jackson.
"We have lost a marvelous doctor," said Trudell, 79, who works for the Clark County Democratic Party. "What a terrible loss to people. He still needs to be practicing medicine."
Dr. Lydia O'Connor-Sanders, who in the past shared office space in Las Vegas with Murray, thinks the cardiologist, who once left her holding the bag for his rent, is getting off easy.
"Even if he gets the maximum, four years in prison, that's certainly not enough punishment for what he did," said the family physician, who used to practice emergency medicine.
"He took Michael's life, and he should be given life," O'Connor-Sanders said of Murray, who at the time of Jackson's death had a practice on East Flamingo Road and a home in Red Rock Country Club.
Though the women reacted differently to Monday's verdict, they agreed on one thing: that Murray probably let the money he was being paid by the entertainer override his medical professionalism when he gave Jackson his desired sleep aid, propofol, an anesthetic that is supposed to be used only in hospitals.
Trudell said she first met Murray after a bout with pneumonia around the time of U.S. Sen. John Kerry's campaign for president in 2004.
"My heart went out of rhythm, and he got it back working right without surgery," she said. "He saved my life, and he kept monitoring my heart. He was so nice."
He was so nice, Trudell said, that he kept her on as a patient though her insurance at that time was not covering payments to him.
"I asked him for a recommendation for another doctor and he said, 'Do you think I would let somebody else take care of you just because you can't pay me right now?' That's the kind of man he was."
But the need for money, Trudell said, led to the doctor's downfall. In giving Jackson propofol, she said, Murray became "more employee than physician." Murray reportedly was to be paid $150,000 a month for his services.
O'Connor-Sanders, who is such a Jackson fan that she went to Los Angeles to mourn after his death, also thinks Murray became more employee than physician, "something no doctor should ever do."
Given that he made the choice to administer propofol to Jackson, Murray should have had advanced resuscitation equipment on hand, O'Connor-Sanders said.
"And he should have been monitoring him all the time, never let him out of his sight," she added. "What Dr. Murray should have done is refer Michael to a specialist for an addiction problem."
At first, O'Connor-Sanders said she liked Murray. When she was starting out as a doctor in 2004, he let her rent space in an office that was part of a practice he shared with pain specialist Dr. Quan Haduong.
But less than a year later, she said, Murray and Haduong decided to move out.
"I was left holding the bag on that space," she said, adding that she had to work out an agreement with a leasing manager.
It was that kind of behavior that convinced O'Connor-Sanders that Murray would act in his own self interest at the expense of others.
"As a physician, you're supposed to do no harm," the family doctor said. "Well, Dr. Murray did harm, and now he should pay for it. Four years is definitely not enough. Michael looked up to Dr. Murray as a physician, and he let him down.
"The King of Pop definitely didn't want to die."
Contact reporter Paul Harasim at email@example.com or 702-387-2908.