LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two sides of Michael Jackson have emerged during the start of a trial involving a lawsuit over his death.
The superstar was repeatedly called an addict by lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit filed by Jackson's mother against concert giant AEG Live.
His financial struggles also were put on display during the proceedings that resumed Tuesday.
"The truth is, Michael Jackson fooled everyone," defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam told jurors. "He made sure that no one — nobody — knew his deepest, darkest secrets."
Jackson's words and music also rang through the courtroom as a lawyer for plaintiff Katherine Jackson tried to show jurors his loving relationship with her and his children.
Jackson's praise for his mother brought tears to her eyes as she sat in court.
While Jackson's song, "You Are My Life," filled the courtroom, jurors watched footage of a Christmas morning when he gave his children a dog.
Jackson died in June 2009 from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol. A year later his mother filed the negligence lawsuit against AEG, claiming the company failed to properly investigate a doctor who was giving propofol to him. The former physician, Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and remains jailed.
AEG has denied any wrongdoing.
Paramedic Richard Senneff — one of the first people to respond to Jackson's home on the day he died — was the trial's first witness.
As he did at Murray's trial, he described Jackson's bedroom and the frantic moments spent trying to revive him.
In opening statements, attorneys read emails describing the singer as unhealthy and in need of serious intervention.
A defense attorney for AEG Live at one point flashed a slide listing 45 medical professionals. He said Jackson had consulted with each of them over the years and requested doses of propofol from some.
Murray, AEG and Michael Jackson were part of an intricate puzzle that plaintiff's lawyer Brian Panish said he intended to piece together for the jury in the coming weeks.
He told the panel that AEG, motivated by its desire to overtake a competitor, created a conflicted situation for Murray in which he chose a huge payday over properly caring for Jackson.
The company also ignored Murray's troubled finances and Jackson's string of health problems as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts titled "This Is It," Panish said.
"They didn't care who got lost in the wash," Panish told the jury. He repeated the adage, "the show must go on," to describe AEG's actions toward both Jackson and Murray.
Defense attorney Putnam countered that the company couldn't have known Jackson was using propofol or the depth of his addiction. He said Jackson hid the drug abuse from his family, and medical professionals were barred from telling anyone about it due to doctor-patient confidentiality.
Putnam told the panel that it was Jackson who wanted Murray's treatments, and the singer ultimately was responsible for his own death.
"This case is about personal choices," Putnam said. "Also, it was about his personal responsibility. There's no question that Michael Jackson's death was a terrible tragedy. I believe the evidence will show it was not a tragedy of AEG Live's making."
Panish, however, urged the jury of six men and six women to reject placing blame on Jackson.
"Michael paid the ultimate price. He died," Panish said. "Michael has taken responsibility."
During his opening remarks, Panish displayed several emails between AEG executives discussing Jackson's health.
One was sent by AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips before Jackson's news conference announcing his "This Is It" shows. The message to Tim Leiweke, former CEO of AEG'S parent company, stated that Jackson was drunk and refusing to address fans.
"This is the scariest thing I have ever seen," Phillips wrote to Leiweke. "He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it's show time. He's scared to death."
The trial will feature testimony from Debbie Rowe, who was married to Jackson and who Putnam said witnessed the entertainer receiving propofol treatments in the 1990s.
"Ms. Rowe knew this was incredibly dangerous," Putnam said, and she insisted on staying by Jackson's side while he was under the effects of the anesthetic.
Panish told jurors it would be up to them to decide any possible damage award to Jackson's mother and children. If Jackson had lived, he could have earned at least $1.5 billion, the lawyer said.
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report. Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Michael Jackson
- Katherine Jackson
- AEG Live