LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Jurors in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial learned Thursday about the pressure on the pop icon and the promoter as his concert tour neared. Some of the information was so upsetting, Jackson’s mother, Katherine, was in tears.
Jurors heard about wrenching conversations with Jackson that unfolded before at his rented mansion. They are talks that the Jackson family allege pressured the pop star and his doctor, Conrad Murray, to seek what turned out to be deadly treatment for his insomnia.
AEG’s chief lawyer Shawn Trell was questioned about the conversations, which came up in a series of emails. As Jackson was missing rehearsals, the show’s director, Kenny Ortega, wrote to AEG execs:
“My concern is now that we’ve brought the doctor into the fold and have played the tough love, now or never card is that the artist may be unable to rise to the occasion due to real emotional stuff,” the email said. “I believe that he really wants this. It would shatter him; break his heart if we pulled the plug…It broke my heart…there still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if we get him the help he needs.”
The Jacksons’ attorney, Brian Panish, asked Trell: “Did you learn that he felt pressured?”
Trell replied, “No. I have no idea what he felt.”
Katherine Jackson wept during the testimony and then left the courtroom where she was hugged by her daughter, Rebbie. She did not return for the rest of the day.
Panish, meantime, hammered away at AEG’s employment of Murray and if there was a conflict of interest. His points were that AEG partnered with Jackson to perform 50 concerts, that the doctor’s professional obligation was to put Jackson’s health first and that Jackson’s doctor was in debt and would not be paid unless the show went on.
Panish asked Trell if he could have told Jackson that this doctor would be torn between his best interests and the promoter’s bests interests.
Trell said no because Jackson asked them to retain this doctor for him and his family. He said they weren’t aware of any conflict of interest.
In other developments, we now know why the artist Prince is on the witness list. The plaintiffs assert that AEG had little expertise in both promoting and producing a world tour. They did it once with Prince. Panish suggested in his questioning that the experience was not a good one.
The next witness is highly anticipated. AEG CEO Paul Gongaware is one of the two AEG execs personally named in the lawsuit.