Michael Jackson's mother told jurors she filed a wrongful death lawsuit against AEG Live "because I want to know what really happened to my son."
Katherine Jackson, likely the final witness as her lawyers conclude their wrongful death case against the pop icon's last concert promoter, began her testimony Friday and will conclude it Monday in a Los Angeles court.
"The most difficult thing is to sit here in the court and listen to all the bad things they say about my son," Jackson testified.
The 83-year-old matriarch of the world's most famous entertainment family sat on the front row in the small courtroom for most of the 51 previous days of testimony.
"A lot of the facts that have been said are not the truth," she said. She said contrary to what an AEG Live executive wrote in an e-mail as Jackson prepared for his comeback concerts in 2009, her son was not lazy.
But she especially objected to an e-mail from AEG parent company's general counsel that called Jackson "a freak" on the same day his company's top executives were going to his house to sign the "This Is It" tour contract.
"He's not here to speak for himself," his mother said. She said she would "try my best" to speak for the pop icon.
Jurors leaned forward and listened closely during Jackson's testimony and as her lawyer showed them video of her son performing as a child.
The lawsuit filed by Katherine Jackson and on behalf of the singer's three children contends AEG Live is liable for the death of Jackson because it hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray. The doctor was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
AEG Live argues it was Jackson, not their company, who chose and controlled Murray, who admitted giving Jackson nightly infusions of a surgical anesthetic the coroner ruled killed him. Its executives had no way of knowing about the dangerous treatments Murray was giving Jackson in the privacy of his bedroom, AEG Live lawyers contend.
"Why are you here?" Jackson lawyer Brian Panish asked Katherine
"Because I want to know what really happened to my son," she said. "And that's why I am here."
Panish asked Jackson how it made her feel to have been asked probing and personal questions about her family by AEG Live lawyer Marvin Putnam during a dozen hours of deposition testimony.
"It makes me feel real bad, because my son was a very good person," she said. "He loved everybody, he gave to charity, he was in the Guinness Book of World Records for giving to charity."
Putnam faces the challenge of not appearing unkind to Katherine Jackson while also trying to discredit her testimony.
"Forget it," she said as she stopped before answering Putnam's question about why she initially included, and later dropped show director Kenny Ortega as a defendant in her lawsuit.
"Forget what ma'am?" Putnam asked.
Jackson remained silent for about a minute, staring back at Putnam.
Would it help to reread the question, he asked.
"No, it wouldn't be helpful," Jackson answered curtly.
The judge finally ordered the question stricken from the record because the answer involved privileged discussions with her lawyers.
Jackson returned to the stand after the lunch break but she told the judge she was tired after just a few more minutes of questioning by Putnam. The judge sent jurors home two hours early and will allow Katherine Jackson to resume her testimony Monday morning.
If jurors decide that AEG Live is liable in Jackson's death, they could award damages based on the loss of the mother's and children's relationship with him and the amount of money he was unable to earn because his life was cut short.
The wrongful death trial is about to get a lot uglier, if defense lawyers live up to the promise of their opening statements.
AEG Live lawyers this week brought up the child molestation charges against Jackson and the 2002 incident in which the pop star "dangled" his infant son on a Berlin hotel balcony.