Testimony in the wrongful death suit brought by Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, against This Is It concert promoter AEG Live is expected to begin today after an emotional day of opening statements yesterday (April 29), reports The AP. Home videos and photos of Jackson with his children were on display as attorneys played his song, "You Are My Life." An email from an AEG Live executive describing Jackson as "an emotionally paralyzed mess" was read aloud.
His mother was moved to tears.
Defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam said Jackson was a financially struggling drug addict and told the jury that he wanted the propofol, the drug that he was using when he died of an overdose in June 2009. "This case is about personal choices," he said. "Also, it was about his personal responsibility. There's no question that Michael Jackson's death was a terrible tragedy. I believe the evidence will show it was not a tragedy of AEG Live's making."
Putnam said that the company couldn't have known that Jackson was an addict, much less that he was using propofol, specifically. He said the singer hid his addiction from his family and doctor patient confidentiality blocked anyone else from knowing.
Plaintiff attorney Brian Panish said, "Michael paid the ultimate price. He died … Michael has taken responsibility." He offered that AEG "didn't care who got lost in the wash," and repeated the adage "the show must go on" to punctuate what he described as a competitive motivation that caused the company, already a giant in the concert promotion industry, to overlook the idea that it was Dr. Conrad Murray's financial struggles that caused MJ's death. He said Murray put a payday ahead of MJ's health. He was slated to receive $150,000 per month.
Jackson never signed the contract to make Murray his official tour doctor. Murray was convicted of manslaughter for the superstar's death.
Panish also read an email sent by AEG CEO Randy Phillips before the announcement of the This Is It tour at a press conference. The email was addressed to Tim Leiweke, a former CEO of AEG's parent company. "This is the scariest thing I have ever seen," he wrote. "He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it's show time. He's scared to death."
Nothing said by either side yesterday is considered evidence. That will be presented as the trial resumes. Testimony is expected from MJ's mother; the oldest two of his three children, Paris and Prince; and Debbie Rowe, the children's mother who was briefly married to MJ. The defense says she saw him using proposal treatments in the '90s.
More details of MJ's life are expected to be revealed as the jury deliberates what money, if any, should be awarded to his children and their grandmother. Had he gone on tour, said their attorney, he could have earned $1.5 billion.
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