The Los Angeles Times looks at key moments from last week in the wrongful death trial in Los Angeles between Katherine Jackson and concert giant AEG Live LLC. They also mention what is expected in the week ahead.
WHAT HAPPENED THIS PAST WEEK
‘This Is It’ director Kenny Ortega testified about his interactions with Michael in preparations for the shows, describing how he felt the concerts likely wouldn’t happen but was more concerned with the health of his long-time friend and collaborator.
Ortega recounted Michael’s frail condition on June 19, 2009, when he said Michael arrived at a rehearsal shivering, frail and incoherent. Ortega said his condition improved as the night went on and he had seemed reinvigorated at a session just a few days later, but died on June 25, 2009.
Ortega acknowledged that it was understandable that AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips was confused by conflicting information received from the director and Michael’s doctor.
Jurors watched the videotaped testimony of Dr. Stuart Finkelstein, a physician and addiction medicine specialist who treated Michael on his 1993 ‘Dangerous’ tour. He said he thought that Michael had a dependency on painkillers at the time adding, that he shared his suspicions with Paul Gongaware, a tour staff member who is now one of AEG Live’s top executives and worked closely with Michael in 2009.
WHAT THE JURY SAW
Handwritten notes that Michael wrote on Neverland Ranch stationary to his nephew, Taj and a note he received from his daughter Paris thanking him for a hug before bedtime.
Ortega broke down on the stand while reading an email he sent to AEG Live’s CEO calling Michael a “lost boy.” A judge called a ten minute recess to allow the choreographer-director to compose himself before resuming his testimony.
“I saw a Michael that frightened me… He appeared lost, cold, afraid,” Ortega told the jury, describing Michael’s condition at a rehearsal session six days before his death.
“I tried the doctor who I thought would be the most natural person to help,” Ortega said of efforts to help Michael during the rehearsal. “Then I reached out to AEG, Michael’s partners, to make sure they were aware of how I felt and what I saw.”
“He gave them Christmas every day of the year,” Ortega said, recounting one visit to Michael’s mansion in April 2009 in which Christmas decorations were up everywhere.
A damages expert is expected to testify about Michael’s potential lost earnings and the plaintiff’s case may draw to a close.