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Michael Jackson wrongful death trial: AEG Live CEO describes meeting

June 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Randy Phillips, the CEO of AEG Live, returned to the witness stand Monday for some tough questioning as the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial entered its seventh week.

A tense meeting at the rented home of Michael Jackson was described in court. Jackson had been missing rehearsals, so the face to face meeting included Phillips, Jackson, his doctor Conrad Murray, and the show's director, Kenny Ortega.

Katherine Jackson accuses the tour promoter of ignoring warning signs and hiring Murray, whose intravenous insomnia treatments led to Jackson's death. The meeting was prompted by concern, Phillips testified. They wanted to find out what was wrong with Jackson and what could be done.

Phillips, a hostile witness called by the Jackson attorneys, was persistently prodded to provide details about the meeting and a series of emails that preceded it. The subject line of the email said: "trouble on the Front."

Ortega wrote to Phillips: "I honestly don't think he is ready for this based on the continued physical weakening and deepening emotional state."

Phillips wrote: "It is time. Enough alarms have sounded. It is time to put out the fire, not burn the building down."

On the stand, Phillips said burning the building down would be canceling the tour. In another email, Phillips said Murray said Jackson "was physically equipped to perform and that discouraging him will hasten his decline instead of stopping it."

Jackson attorney Brian Panish seized on the word "decline," asking, "If you are hastening a decline, isn't' he already in a decline?"

Phillips answered, "No that means there was an issue. I didn't know what the issue was."

The lawsuit accuses AEG of pressuring Murray to do whatever it took to get Jackson on stage or AEG would not pay the doctor. AEG denies hiring the doctor or knowing about his insomnia therapy.

Regarding the outcome of the meeting, Phillips testified Jackson was great in the following days and that Jackson had two of the best rehearsals after that. The plaintiffs point out the time frame, saying Jackson died the day after that final rehearsal.

After the jurors left the courtroom Monday, the judge told Phillips to answer questions without arguing and that his demeanor might be hurting the case. Phillips has been sparring with Jackson's attorney throughout his testimony.


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