Jackson was found not breathing in his own bed in his rented mansion after being dosed intravenously with propofol, a drug normally administered in hospitals during surgery.
The coroner ruled the case a homicide and the blame would fall to the last person who had seen Jackson alive - Murray, who had been hired to care for the singer as the comeback concerts neared.
Craving sleep, Jackson had searched for a doctor who would give him the intravenous anesthetic that Jackson called his "milk" and believed to be his salvation. Other medical professionals turned him down, according to trial testimony.
Murray gave up his practices in Houston and Las Vegas and agreed to travel with Jackson and work as his personal physician indefinitely.
For six weeks, as Jackson undertook strenuous rehearsals, Murray infused him with propofol every night, the doctor told police. He later tried to wean Jackson from the drug because he feared he was becoming addicted.
Jackson planned to pay Murray $150,000 a month for an extended tour in Europe. In the end, the doctor was never paid a penny because Jackson died before signing the contract.
During the last 24 hours of his life, Jackson sang and danced at a spirited rehearsal, reveling in the adulation of fans who greeted him outside. Then came a night of horror, chasing sleep - the most elusive treasure the millionaire entertainer could not buy.
Testimony showed Murray gave Jackson intravenous doses that night of the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam. Jackson also took a Valium pill. But nothing seemed to bring sleep.
Finally, Murray told police, he gave the singer a small dose of propofol - 25 milligrams - that seemed to put him to sleep. The doctor said he felt it was safe to leave his patient's bedside for a few minutes, but Jackson was not breathing when he returned.
Witnesses said he was most likely dead at that point.
What happened next was a matter of dispute during the trial. Security and household staff described Murray as panicked, never calling 911 but trying to give Jackson CPR on his bed instead of the firm floor.
A guard said Murray was concerned with packing up and hiding medicine bottles and IV equipment before telling him to call 911. Prosecutors said Murray was distracted while Jackson was sedated, citing Murray's cell phone records to show he made numerous calls.
Authorities never accused Murray of intending to kill the star, and it took eight months for them to file the involuntary manslaughter charge against him. It was the lowest possible felony charge involving a homicide.
There was no law against administering propofol or the other sedatives. But prosecution expert witnesses said Murray was acting well below the standard of care required of a physician.
They said using propofol in a home setting without lifesaving equipment on hand was an egregious deviation from that standard. They called it gross negligence, the legal basis for an involuntary manslaughter charge.
The defense team countered with its own expert who presented calculations suggesting that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose.
In closing arguments, the prosecutor said the mystery of what happened behind the closed doors of Jackson's bedroom on the fatal day probably would never be solved.