Michael Jackson Hid Drug Use, Promoters Allege
Attorneys for concert promotion company AEG Live started calling medical professionals to the stand to testify about Michael Jackson’s drug use as they began their defense last week in the singer’s wrongful death trial.
“He wasn’t honest with me,” nurse anesthetist David Fournier told the jury, noting that Jackson didn’t tell him he had an implant in his body to combat a Demerol addiction, which interfered with his sedation during a procedure and caused him to stop breathing.
“You expect your clients and doctors be honest with you and I felt ambushed and was upset,” Fournier said, bringing up other incidents in which the pop star didn’t follow his instructions.
The nurse said he gave Jackson the anesthetic propofol 14 times from 2000 to 2003 for various skin treatments and plastic surgeries, and had sedated him a number of times previously using different drugs.
Fournier said that when he told Jackson that the anesthesia could cause organ damage, heart failure or death Jackson told him, “Stop, you’ve done enough. I’ve got it.”
Finally Fournier said Jackson stopped hiring him after he refused to treat him in 2003 when the singer was “a little goofy, a little slow to respond,” because he thought Jackson was lying to him about his drug use.
“Despite 10 years of good quality care and taking good care of him for a long period of time, he never called me” again, Fournier testified.
Jackson’s family is suing AEG, claiming the promoters negligently hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson’s personal physician. Murray is serving a four-year sentence for manslaughter after he gave Jackson an overdose of propofol which led to his heart attack in 2009.
Nothing Wrong With Him
Although he did acknowledge that he thought Jackson was dishonest and tried to hide his drug use, Fournier said he didn’t see any evidence of drug-seeking behavior from his patient.
The defense did show medical records that revealed that Jackson returned several times to an emergency room to ask for pain medicine after he was treated for a broken foot.
Also last week Michael’s mother Katherine finished her testimony from the previous week, addressing her son’s drug use. “I knew he was taking [pain pills], but I didn’t know he was abusing them,” she said. “Even though he asked for it, [Murray] could have said no,” she said of propofol administrations.
Once, she said, she participated in a 2002 intervention for her son but ended up regretting it because “because when we got [to his ranch], there was nothing wrong with him.”
The trial continues into its 14th week amid speculation as to whether Debbie Rowe, Michael’s former nurse, wife and the mother of two of his children, will testify for the defense. If she talks it is expected to damage the family’s case because she could provide evidence that even someone so close to Jackson was fooled by his drug use, which might suggest to jurors that AEG shouldn’t be on the hook for not recognizing how addled he had become.
In other news the judge banned blogger William Wagener from watching the live action in the courtroom after Wagener took a photo on an escalator that included some of the jurors.