AEG lawyer: 'Ugly stuff' to come in Michael Jackson death trial - CNN.com
Los Angeles (CNN) -- AEG Live's lawyer warned jurors that "we're going to show some ugly stuff" as he began the defense's opening statement in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial Monday.
The concert promoter has no choice to reveal Jackson's "deepest, darkest secret" because the company must defend itself from the accusation from Jackson's family that it is responsible for the pop icon's death, Marvin Putnam said.
"There will be no question in your mind that they were ruthless and they wanted to be No. 1 at all cost," Jackson lawyer Brian Panish said.
AEG executives knew that Jackson was emotionally and physically weak, Panish told jurors.
Jackson was in an "obvious sharp decline" in the weeks after Murray began working as his personal doctor while he prepared for his comeback concerts.
Another warning sign should have been that Murray asked for $5 million for the job and eventually agreed on $150,000 a month, Panish said. Another doctor had told AEG he would do the job for $40,000 a month as long as Jackson was "clean," meaning not on drugs, he said.
Panish played for the jury a video of an AEG expert who agreed that Murray's pay demand was "outrageous."
"That raised red flag because it was an enormous sum of money," defense expert Marty Hom said.
"AEG ignored the obvious red flags, and they hired Dr. Murray," Panish said.
Later in the trial, jurors will hear Michael's oldest son and daughter describe their father's last days. But they will also endure weeks of testimony from medical and financial experts offering opinions about the singer's health, addiction and career.
Only 16 journalists and a few members of the public will be allowed inside the courtroom because many of its 45 seats are reserved for parties involved in the trial, including the Jackson family. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos denied CNN's request to televise the trial.
Jurors chosen to decide Michael Jackson wrongful death case
The central issue
The central issue is simple: Did AEG Live, the company promoting Jackson's comeback concerts in 2009, hire or supervise Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's June 25, 2009, death?
Jackson died two weeks before his "This Is It" comeback concerts, organized by AEG Live, were to have debuted in London. The coroner ruled Jackson died from a fatal combination of sedatives and propofol, a surgical anesthetic that Murray told investigators he used to put Jackson to sleep almost every night in the month before his death.
The Jacksons argue that AEG executives knew about the star's weakened health and his past use of dangerous drugs while on tour. They're liable in his death because they pressured Jackson and the doctor to meet their ambitious schedule to prepare for the London shows despite that knowledge, their lawyers contend.
A cornerstone of their case is an e-mail AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware wrote 11 days before Jackson's death. The e-mail to show director Kenny Ortega addressed concerns that Murray had kept Jackson from a rehearsal the day before: "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him."
Jackson lawyers argue the e-mail is evidence that AEG Live used Murray's fear of losing his lucrative job as Jackson's personal physician to pressure him to have Jackson ready for rehearsals despite his fragile health.
Gongaware, in a video deposition played in court Monday, said he could not remember writing the e-mail, which the Jackson lawyers call the "smoking gun" in their case.
"They put Dr. Murray in a position where if he said Michael can't go or can't play, if he said I can't give you those drugs, then he doesn't get paid," Panish told jurors Monday.
Gongaware, who managed two of Jackson's tours in the 1990s, knew that Jackson relied on addictive opiates during his concert tours, Panish said.
He played a video of one doctor who said he warned Gongaware about it in 1993.
"We felt that we needed to an intervention," Dr. Stuart Finkelstein said. "We needed to do detox."
AEG's lawyer argued Monday that Gongaware and other AEG executives had no way of knowing about Jackson's use of propofol to sleep.
"AEG knew nothing about this decade-long propofol use," Putnam said. "They were a concert promoter. How could they know?"
Answer by QuinnMae at 10:55 AM on Apr. 30, 2013
Answer by NotPanicking at 1:34 PM on Apr. 30, 2013
Answer by baconbits at 2:14 PM on Apr. 30, 2013