An artist rendering of Katherine Jackson on the witness stand in a Los Angeles courtroom.
Katherine Jackson's two-day stint on a Los Angeles courtroom witness stand ended with the 83-year-old grandmother tearfully declaring that concert promoter AEG Live never told her family that Michael Jackson was sleep-deprived for 60 days, was paranoid, losing weight and deteriorating before everyone's eyes.
"They watched him waste away," she testified. "They could have called me. He was asking for his father. My grandson told me that his daddy was nervous and scared." AEG Live is the entertainment company that was in charge of Michael Jackson's ill-fated comeback tour.
Clutching a tissue, appearing confused and sometimes citing memory problems, Katherine said she didn't know the extent of her son's weakness until the trial began. Repeating her testimony from Friday that she was not aware Michael Jackson was a drug addict, Katherine said that she never saw her son under the influence of drugs and never saw him “loopy, or out of it," even on the telephone. But after her other children told her they believed he was addicted to prescription drugs despite Michael's denial, she participated in an intervention at his Neverland ranch in 2002.
“I knew he was taking them (pain pills) but I didn’t know he was abusing them,” Katherine told the jury. She said Michael was upset when the family staged the intervention "because when we got there, there was nothing wrong with him.” The intervention, she added, didn't really take place because Michael Jackson was upset and yelled at his family, and Katherine Jackson became embarrassed to be there, she testified.
On cross-examination, a lawyer for AEG showed Katherine an open letter to the media she signed and released in 2007 denying there was ever a family intervention and also denying that Michael Jackson was addicted to drugs and alcohol. The lawyer also played a 2010 Oprah interview in which Katherine admitted that Michael was an addict.
Katherine and Michael Jackson's three children have sued AEG Live claiming the entertainment company that promoted the King of Pop's last concerts failed to pick up on warning signs that could have saved his life. As part of the lawsuit, the Jackson family also alleges that AEG did not properly investigate Conrad Murray, the doctor who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the superstar's death in 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison.
"Even though [Michael] asked for (the drug propofol), (Murray) could have said no," Katherine testified.
Jackson died while rehearsing his 50-show comeback tour in London, three weeks before the tour was to start. His two eldest children have also testified at the trial, 16-year-old Michael Jackson, Jr. known as "Prince," who testified about his relationship with his dad and the harrowing day he lost his father; and his sister, Paris, 15, who offered videotaped testimony. Paris is currently being treated in a hospital after a suicide attempt in June. On Friday, her grandmother testified that Paris tried to kill herself "because she wanted to be with daddy."
On Monday, Katherine testified that she did not believe her son was responsible for his death. When questioned by AEG lead counsel Marvin Putnam, she "did not remember" if she attended Murray's manslaughter trial and assisted the prosecution in that case.
Katherine also said she did not know that her son used propofol and that he gave Murray money "because he felt bad for [him] because he didn't have no money -- not because (Michael) had hired him." Despite the fact that she is “83-years-old and may not remember everything clearly,” Katherine testified that she distinctly remembers that AEG hired Murray -- not her son. She had no idea the doctor spent six nights a week at her son's home.
Katherine could not recall if she had a bank account in 2010 and said she was surprised to learn that her son was having financial problems before his death. “I heard that from different people,” she said. “I heard for years that Michael Jackson was broke but he wasn’t.”
Katherine, who has been taking care of her son's children since he died, said that Michael paid many of her living expenses and would sometimes give her extra spending cash. When asked why she didn't keep a record of the payments her son made on her behalf, Katherine appeared annoyed: "What does this have to do with the death of my son?"
At the conclusion of her testimony, Katherine left the courtroom to rest. The trial, in its 13th week, continues.
This report contains additional reporting from E!'s Claudia Rosenbaum.
First published July 22 2013, 11:46 AM