Jury hears from Jackson director, doc, in week 11
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A look at key moments this past week in the wrongful death trial in Los Angeles between Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, and concert giant AEG Live LLC, and what is expected at court in the week ahead:
Jackson’s mother wants a jury to determine that the promoter of Jackson’s planned comeback concerts didn’t properly investigate Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter by a criminal jury for Jackson’s June 2009 death. AEG’s attorney says the case is about personal choice, namely Jackson’s decision to have Murray serve as his doctor and give him doses of a powerful anesthetic as a sleep aid. Millions, possibly billions, of dollars are at stake.
WHAT HAPPENED THIS PAST WEEK
— “This Is It” director Kenny Ortega testified about his interactions with Jackson in preparations for the shows, describing how he felt the concerts likely wouldn’t happen but was more concerned with the health of his longtime friend and collaborator.
— Ortega recounted Jackson’s frail condition on June 19, 2009, when he said the singer arrived at a rehearsal shivering, frail and incoherent. Ortega said Jackson’s condition improved as the night went on and had seemed reinvigorated at a session just a few days later, but died on June 25, 2009.
— Ortega acknowledged that it was understandable that AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips was confused by conflicting information received from the director and the singer’s doctor.
— Jurors watched the videotaped testimony of Dr. Stuart Finkelstein, a physician and addiction medicine specialist who treated Jackson on his 1993 “Dangerous” tour and said he thought that the singer had a dependency on painkillers at the time. He said he shared his suspicions with Paul Gongaware, a tour staff member who is now one of AEG Live’s top executives and worked closely with Jackson in 2009.
WHAT THE JURY SAW
— Handwritten notes that Jackson wrote on Neverland Ranch stationary to his nephew, Taj, and a note he received from his daughter Paris thanking him for a hug before bedtime.
— Ortega break down on the stand while reading an email he sent to AEG Live’s CEO calling Jackson a “lost boy.” A judge called a 10 minute recess to allow the choreographer-director to compose himself before resuming his testimony.
— “I saw a Michael that frightened me ... “He appeared lost, cold, afraid,” Ortega told the jury, describing the singer’s condition at a rehearsal session six days before his death.
— “I tried the doctor who I thought would be the most natural person” to help, Ortega said of efforts to help Jackson during the rehearsal. “Then I reached out to AEG, Michael’s partners, to make sure they were aware of how I felt and what I saw.”
— “He gave them Christmas every day of the year,” Ortega said, recounting one visit to Jackson’s mansion in April 2009 in which Christmas decorations were up everywhere.
— A damages expert is expected to testify about Jackson’s potential lost earnings and the plaintiff’s case may draw to a close.