The mother of late pop star Michael Jackson testified on Friday in her wrongful death lawsuit that concert promoter AEG Live failed to get her son proper medical attention when he became sick while preparing for a comeback tour in 2009. Katherine Jackson, 83, broke down when recalling the death of her famous son and later asked to suspend her testimony after growing distressed under cross-examination. It was the first time Jackson had taken the stand in the trial in which she and Michael’s children are suing AEG Live.
The Thriller singer died at age 50 in June 2009 in Los Angeles from an overdose of surgical anesthetic propofol while preparing for a series of shows in London.
The lawsuit alleges that AEG hired Conrad Murray as his personal physician. Murray was caring for the singer as he rehearsed for the shows and the doctor was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for administering the propofol that killed Jackson.
Katherine Jackson’s testimony on Friday ranged from a tearful recollection of learning her son had died to accounts of her family’s humble beginnings in a four-room house in Gary, Indiana. She described Michael as a musically inclined baby who wanted to dance with his brothers.
Under cross-examination from AEG attorney Marvin Putnam, she grew frustrated and confused and ultimately asked to stop shortly after a lunch break. She returns to the stand tomorrow.
Michael Jackson had shown signs of physical distress as he prepared for his planned 50-date comeback concert tour “This Is It.” Kenny Ortega, who was to direct the shows, has said that less than a week before Jackson’s death, he turned up at rehearsals incoherent and psychologically troubled.
AEG Live has said it did not hire or supervise Murray and argues that Jackson had prescription drug and addiction problems for years before entering into any agreement with the company. AEG Live representatives have said they could not have foreseen that Murray posed a danger to Jackson.
The Jackson family matriarch has been a courtroom fixture since the trial began in late April, but said she was nervous on the stand because it was her first time testifying before a jury.
Dressed in a purple print dress and purple jacket, Jackson told the court repeatedly that it was hard to sit there every day and listen to “to all the bad things they say about my son.”
“All I heard was that he was lazy. Mr Jackson was sick and couldn’t rehearse,” she said.
Michael’s oldest son, Prince, 16, has already testified. The younger children Paris, 15, and 11-year-old Prince Michael II, also known as Blanket, were not expected to testify. Michael’s nephews T.J. and Taj Jackson, sons of brother Tito Jackson, have testified.
The trial, which started in April and was supposed to last three months, is expected to wrap up in September.