LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Michael Jackson’s 83-year-old mother lashed out at the promoters of his doomed last tour, accusing them of letting her son “waste away” before his 2009 death.
She wept in court again on her second day of testimony against AEG Live, promoter of the “This is It” tour which Jackson was rehearsing for in Los Angeles when he died.
“They watched him waste away,” she said, of AEG managers. “They could have called me. He was asking for his father. My grandson told me that his daddy was nervous and scared,” she said.
The Jackson family matriarch also rebuffed a question about how much money she wants in damages, saying: “You can talk to my lawyers about that.”
Grilled by AEG Live lawyer Marvin Putnam, she recalled the only time she asked her son about rumors that he was abusing drugs — and said he denied it, despite at least one family “intervention” in the years before his death.
“Well, I’m his mother, and quite naturally he denied because he wouldn’t want me to think that .. .. he’s not going to admit that,” she said, adding that she knew he was taking prescription painkillers.
“I knew he was taking them. I didn’t think he might have been abusing them,” she added, recounting the exchange at his Las Vegas home, some time after he returned from living abroad following his 2005 child molestation trial.
Katherine Jackson accuses AEG Live of pushing her son too hard as he rehearsed in Los Angeles for a series of “This is It” comeback concerts in London, and of negligently hiring doctor Conrad Murray to look after him.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 over Jackson’s June 25, 2009 death from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol, administered to help the 50-year-old singer with chronic insomnia.
Katherine Jackson wept in court on the first day of testimony Friday, which was cut short when she appeared confused, a short time after AEG Live’s lawyer began grilling her.
On Monday Putnam resumed his questioning. In tense exchanges, he asked her about the figure of $1.5-1.7 billion she was reportedly seeking in damages from the tour promoter.
“You can talk to my lawyers about that,” she said icily.
The $1.5 billion figure was given at the start of the trial as an evaluation of lost income and an unspecified amount for emotional loss and other damages caused by Jackson’s death.
Jackson was widely reported to have huge debts after his career imploded due to the child molestation scandal. The London shows — expected to be followed by a world tour — would have salvaged his finances.
But his mother said she did not believe he had financial problems. After initially asking Putnam “What does this have to do with the death of my son?” she said: “I heard for years that Michael was broke, and he wasn’t ..I didn’t believe it, because he wasn’t.”
Putnam also quizzed her at length about a family “intervention” in 2002, when she and various children including Janet and Rebbie went to confront Jackson about his reported drug problems at his Neverland ranch.
But the confrontation came to nothing, she said, after the singer appeared upset when he realized why they were there. “We just saw that he was okay and he was upset, so we didn’t talk about it,” she said.
Putnam repeated several of his questions multiple times, as Jackson — whose voice was at times barely audible, even through a court microphone, said she either didn’t understand or could not remember.
Copyright 2013 The National Memo