Michael Jackson May Have Been Drug-Seeker, Ex-Wife Testifies
Michael Jackson’s ex-wife worried that her late beau would visit a dermatologist in search of painkillers, she testified last week in the singer’s wrongful death trial.
Debbie Rowe, who was Jackson’s nurse before entering a marriage with him from 1996 to 1999, originally met the pop star when she worked for his dermatologist. She said he would sometimes go see the skin doctor no apparent reason. “I didn’t understand why he would come in twice in one week,” she said. “I didn’t necessarily see what he wanted to have done.”
Rowe, who is the mother of Jackson’s two oldest children, took the stand during the marathon trial’s 16th week. While Rowe was called to testify by defense attorneys, she made sure to clarify to the jury that she didn’t consider herself a witness for either side in the trial.
Rowe said she decided to have children with Jackson after he split from his first wife, Lisa Marie Presley, without producing any offspring.
“I wanted him to be a father,” she said. “I wanted him to have everything he didn’t have growing up. I wanted him to experience it with his own child, with his own children.”
Jackson’s mother and children are suing AEG Live, the company that was promoting his ill-fated comeback tour, alleging that they negligently hired, retained or supervised his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.
Jackson died in 2009 after Murry gave him an overdose of propofol, an anesthetic that the performer regularly used to battle insomnia and go to sleep at night. Murray was convicted of manslaughter in 2011.
Bidding for Drugs
Injuries that Jackson sustained a quarter century before his death may have haunted him all the way to the end, Rowe suggested. He burned his scalp when his hair caught fire while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984, an injury that required repeated surgeries and ongoing pain treatment.
Debilitating pain persisted for decades and might have contributed to a drug dependency. “When it came to the pain . . . it was more begging for relief than anything,” Rowe said. “He respected doctors so he wouldn’t question what they were doing.”
He also had frequent legitimate appointments to treat acne and vitiligo, a skin-lightening condition. Nevertheless, the specter of addictive drugs concerned Rowe, and she reported that doctors would sometimes compete among themselves to provide them to her husband. “Unfortunately, some of the doctors decided that when Michael was in pain that they would try to outbid each other on who could get the better drug,” Rowe said. “And so he listened to the doctors.”
Doctors were giving him propofol to help him sleep more than a decade before Murray did, she testified.
Also last week, a financial consultant estimated that Jackson would have provided about $21.5 million to his family if he had lived. The plaintiffs are reportedly seeking billions, but the consultant pointed out that Jackson had large debts that would have crimped his net earning potential.
A sports doctor testified on Friday that Jackson was responsible for his own health care, regardless of the fact that AEG was fronting the money to pay Murray’s salary. Even if there had been pressure to get Jackson to perform, Murray was still bound by professional care standards, Dr. Gary Green said.