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Michael Jackson trial: Debbie Rowe cries during testimony

Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe walks up to a Los Angeles courtroom to testify in the pop icon's wrongful death trial on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013.
August 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe took the stand Wednesday in the pop icon's wrongful death trial, crying as she described Jackson's fear of pain.

It took a subpoena to bring Rowe, mother to Prince and Paris Jackson, to court to testify for the defense. Prosecutors questioned Rowe about Jackson's drug use when they were a couple. AEG attorneys want to show that Jackson had drug problems as far back as the early 1990s.

Rowe was a nurse assistant to dermatologist Arnold Klein, who she said provided the painkiller Demerol and Propofol for many of the hundreds of treatments Jackson received over 20 years.

According to records in evidence, Klein was treating Jackson up until three days before his death.

Rowe broke down on the witness stand, describing Jackson as a victim of doctors competing over a celebrity patient.

"Michael respected doctors immensely," she testified. "Unfortunately, some of the doctors decided that when Michael was in pain, that they would try to outdo each other, who could give the better drug."

Rowe identified the doctors as Klein and plastic surgeon Steven Hoefflin.

"These idiots were going back and forth the whole time and not caring about him," Rowe said.

Rowe testified that Jackson had trouble sleeping, but always seemed to be able to sleep after a doctor's appointment. She said his use of pain meds started with his accident in 1984, when his scalp burned filming a Pepsi commercial.

In 1993, she described a painful surgery to stretch his scalp and remove scar tissue. Even though the surgery happened three years before Jackson wed Rowe, she was present during the surgery. She said Jackson asked her to be present to make sure everything was OK.

"Michael had a very low pain tolerance," Rowe said as she began to cry. "His fear of pain was incredible."

Klein and Hoefflin, she said, were providing powerful drugs -- to the point she consulted with Jackson's internist. She testified that Dr. Allan Metzger designed a plan to wean Jackson off the meds.

She told the jury that another doctor foiled the effort as Jackson left on the Dangerous World Tour, and that he rejected Metzger's directions. Later that year, Jackson announced he was cutting his Dangerous World Tour short to enter rehab.

"My friends and doctors advised me to seek professional guidance immediately in order to eliminate what has become an addiction. It is time for me to acknowledge my need for treatment in order to regain my health," Jackson said in a recorded statement at the time.

Rowe returns to the witness stand on Thursday.

AEG is trying to show that Jackson's use of medications and prescription drugs was habitual, and that his death, in part, was caused by his own behavior.

The lawsuit, brought by Katherine Jackson and the pop star's three children, claims that AEG was negligent in Jackson's death. Katherine Jackson claims that AEG executives pressured her son to perform and, at the star's request, hired Dr. Conrad Murray.


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