LOS ANGELES (KABC) — For the first time, one of the defendants in the Michael Jackson wrongful death lawsuit took the witness stand Tuesday.
AEG Live Executive Paul Gongaware is one of the officials accused of hiring Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray.
After Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour was announced, contentious emails flew between the show producers.
A central figure was co-CEO of AEG Live Paul Gongaware who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by Katherine Jackson, Michael’s mother.
She and daughter Janet Jackson looked on as Mrs. Jackson’s attorney, Brian Panish, fired questions at Gongaware on wide-ranging topics.
Gongaware in emails called Jackson “Mikey.” He once described Jackson as “lazy.”
Panish asked Gongaware if he tried to trick Michael in an email. In it Gongaware asks cohorts to pitch Jackson numbers that project gross receipts from the concert tour, not the net receipts, in order to make the numbers sound bigger. Gongaware said he didn’t recall the email.
In another email Gongaware says his team was aware of Jackson’s idiosyncrasies. Panish asked if that included painkillers, and questioned his truthfulness.
Gongaware testified that he knew about Jackson’s dependency on medications was because Jackson announced he was entering rehab after the “Dangerous” tour in 1993, a tour that Gongaware had worked on. Later, Gongaware said he learned Jackson was treated with meds on that tour.
Attention soon turned to Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter after Jackson died of a sedative overdose. Gongaware had testified at Murray’s trial that signing on Murray was Michael’s request.
“He said, ‘This is the machine. You have to take care of the machine. This is what I want: I want Doctor Murray,'” said Gongaware in Murray’s trial.
The Jacksons are suing Gongaware for hiring Murray.
Gongaware testified that he never checked out the doctor, because Murray had been with Jackson for three years prior.
Gongaware told the jury: “It was not up to me to tell Michael Jackson who his doctor should be.”