LOS ANGELES — Dr. Conrad Murray was in dire financial shape when he signed on as Michael Jackson's personal physician earlier this year at $150,000 a month.
The Las Vegas cardiologist owed a total of at least $780,000 in judgments against him and his medical practice, outstanding mortgage payments on his house, delinquent student loans, child support and credit cards.
Court records chronicling Murray's woes in Las Vegas, where authorities searched his home this week as part of a manslaughter investigation into Jackson's death, might help explain why Murray seized the chance to keep the pop star healthy through a series of concerts in London.
The financial pressures on Murray could help prosecutors establish a motive if he ends up facing charges.
"There may have been a great deal of pressure to do what Michael Jackson wanted, give him the drugs he wanted, treat him the way Michael Jackson wanted to be treated, even if it wasn't in keeping with medical protocol," said Steve Cron, a criminal defense attorney and adjunct professor at Pepperdine University's law school.
Murray's financial trouble "does potentially provide evidence of good motive for financial-based crimes, including prescribing when there is not a medical necessity," said Rebecca Lonergan, a University of Southern California law professor.
Murray, 56, has not spoken publicly since Jackson's June 25 death. His lawyer, Edward Chernoff, has said the doctor did not prescribe anything that "should have" killed Jackson.