LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine will finally take the stand Friday at her trial against tour promoters AEG Live, who she alleges negligently hired the doctor convicted over the star’s 2009 death.
After sitting through 12 weeks of often-emotional testimony, the 83-year-old will give her account of what happened in the weeks and months before her son died while rehearsing for a doomed comeback concert tour.
The family matriarch is the main plaintiff in the multi-million dollar case against AEG Live, and the second immediate family member to testify after the late star’s son Prince gave testimony last month.
She claims AEG Live negligently hired and retained doctor Conrad Murray to look after Jackson as he rehearsed in Los Angeles for his “This is It” comeback tour, which planned to start with 50 shows in London.
Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 over Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of surgical anesthetic propofol, administered to help the singer cope with chronic insomnia.
Jackson’s 16-year-old son Prince testified last month his exhausted father warned that tour promoters AEG Live were going to “kill” him as he rehearsed for the marathon concert tour.
“He just wished he had more time for rehearsals,” he told the wrongful death trial, also recounting the harrowing scenes on the day Jackson died, with his younger sister Paris “screaming” as Murray battled in vain to revive him.
In recent days the Jacksons’ lawyer Brian Panish has focused on financial details, calling an accountant expert witness, Arthur Erk, who testified Jackson could have earned up to $1.5 million with the London concerts and a subsequent world tour.
Emotions have also spilled over outside the courtroom: on Tuesday this week a shouting match erupted in the hallway as lawyers spoke to reporters about the day’s hearing.
Panish and his AEG rival attorney Marvin Putnam have repeatedly clashed during the trial. Putnam is expected to begin presenting his case next week, once Katherine Jackson has testified to wrap up the Jackson case.
Paris Jackson, 15, was originally expected to be among witnesses called at the Jackson v AEG trial, which is expected to last through August.
But she is now unlikely to do so, after being rushed to the hospital after trying to commit suicide at the family home in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles, last month.
She had previously been treated for depression and remains under medical supervision. Her testimony has been heard during the trial, in the form of video of a deposition she gave in March.
Katherine Jackson’s testimony is expected to close the Jacksons’ case at the trial, after nearly three months of hearings in a downtown L.A. courtroom a stone’s throw from where Murray was convicted in 2011.
She has attended much of the trial, sitting in the front row often with another family member, on occasion fighting to contain her emotion when harrowing details of her son’s final days are discussed.
She is expected to be on the stand for much of the day. Her lawyer told LA Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos that the octogenarian will need regular breaks, given her advanced age.
She is due to take the stand some time after 9:30 am (1630 GMT) Friday.
Photo Credit: AFP/Frederic J. Brown