Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Son recalls Michael Jackson's traumatic death in court

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LOS ANGELES -- Michael Jackson's oldest son described the frantic efforts to revive his father to a jury, a scene of tears and agony that ended a dozen idyllic years being raised by one of pop music's superstars.

Michael Joseph (Prince) Jackson Jr. told the panel Wednesday that he knew there was trouble in the singer's rented mansion when he heard screaming upstairs and went into his father's bedroom. His father was lying halfway off the bed, eyes rolled into the back of his head as his physician tried CPR.

His sister Paris screamed for her father and Prince, now 16, told jurors that he was crying. On the ride to a hospital, the teenager recounted how he tried to calm the fears of his sister and younger brother by telling them angels were watching over their father.

It wasn't until his father's doctor, Conrad Murray, came out of the emergency room and said he had died that Prince knew his father was gone.

"Nothing will ever be the same," the teenager told jurors. He said his younger brother doesn't totally realize the loss, but his sister has had a hard time and he has had sleepless nights since his father died four years ago.

His voice wavered at times and tears appeared to form in his eyes, but Prince remained composed as he publicly recounted for the first time what he saw the day his father died.

The re-telling of the scene in Jackson's bedroom came after nearly an hour of Prince describing happier times, showing a series of videos of the children filmed by their father.

He testified in a lawsuit accusing concert promoter AEG Live LLC of negligently hiring Murray, who was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.

AEG denies it hired the physician or bears any responsibility for the entertainer's death.

Wearing a black suit with a dark grey tie and his long brown hair tucked behind his ears, Prince testified that he saw AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips at the family's rented mansion in a heated conversation with Murray in the days before his father died. The teenager said Phillips grabbed Murray's elbow.

Phillips "looked aggressive to me," Prince testified.

His father wasn't at home at the time and was probably rehearsing, he said.

He said he saw his father cry after phone conversations with Phillips, saying he wanted more time to rehearse and was unhappy with pressure to perform his 50 scheduled comeback concerts titled This Is It.

Murray's attorney Valerie Wass and AEG defence attorney Marvin S. Putnam denied outside court that the meeting Prince described ever happened.

Putnam said Prince would be re-called to the witness stand during the defence case later in the trial.

"I think as the testimony will show when he is called in our defence, that's not what happened," Putnam said. "He was a 12-year-old boy who has had to endure this great tragedy."

Prince is the first Jackson family member to testify during the trial, now in its ninth week.

Prince Jackson, his sister Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson and brother Prince Michael (Blanket) Jackson are plaintiffs in the case against AEG, which their grandmother and primary caretaker filed in August 2010.

His testimony also included details that AEG's lawyers will likely point to later in the case to bolster their contention that Jackson was secretive about using propofol as a sleep aid.

Prince said none of the household staff were allowed upstairs, and the singer kept his bedroom locked while receiving treatments from Murray.

During cross-examination, Putnam played a clip from a deposition of Prince in which the teen said he discovered the bedroom was locked when he and his siblings were playing hide-and-seek and couldn't get inside.

Prince also said his father gave him and his sister Paris a stack of $100 bills on a few occasions to give to Murray. He said his father told him that Murray wouldn't take the money from him, and the doctor wouldn't take the full amount from the children.

The teen said his understanding was that the money was meant to tide Murray over until was paid by AEG Live.

He never saw or knew how Murray was treating his father.

"I was 12. To my understanding he was supposed to make sure my dad stayed healthy," Prince testified.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2013 D6

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