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Jackson showed signs of illness before death: concert promoter

(Xinhua)

09:24, October 27, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Michael Jackson's tour director once considered "pulling the plug" on the superstar's comeback shows because of the singer's failing health, Jackson's concert promoter testified on Tuesday.

Brandon "Randy" Phillips, president and CEO of AEG Live, which was in charge of organizing the concerts, told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury that Jackson had been unable to focus during rehearsals and had actually missed a number of them.

Tour director Kenny Ortega was so concerned that he almost decided to cancel the tour to be staged at London's O2 Arena.

Phillips noted that there had been a production meeting at which Jackson "was not as focused as he usually is." Jackson's personal assistant told him later that Jackson had just come from the office of Dr. Arnold Klein, a Beverly Hills dermatologist.

Just five days before Jackson's June 25, 2009 death, Phillips said he called another meeting at Jackson's home as Ortega sent an email expressing his concern about Jackson and contemplating "pulling the plug" on the upcoming concert dates.

However, just like what they did at previous meetings, Jackson and his personal physician Conrad Murray -- who is charged with involuntary manslaughter stemming from the singer's death, offered reassurances that the pop icon would pull it together.

The cardiologist guaranteed at that meeting that "Michael would get into it," while Jackson himself was "very clear that he was ready."

"He (Jackson) said, 'You build the house. I'll put on the door and paint it,'" the AEG Live president told the seven-man, five-woman jury at the trial against Murray.

Earlier in his testimony, Phillips said the pop singer insisted on bringing Murray with him to provide constant treatment for him when he performed in London, even though he was cautioned that it would be very expensive.

The singer agreed to do 50 shows as he felt that no performer would be able to beat that record for a venue of that size, according to Phillips.

At the beginning of the proceedings, the defense's first witness of the day -- nurse practitioner Cherilyn Lee told the panelists that Jackson requested Diprivan, a brand name for Propofol, while she was at his rented Holmby Hills estate on April 19, 2009.

Jackson said he had tried everything else, but Propofol would allow him to quickly fall asleep, she testified.

"I know this will knock me out," she quoted Jackson as saying.

Lee said she did not know anything about the potent drug, so she consulted a doctor, told Jackson about the Propofol's potential side effects, and did not provide the drug.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office ruled the superstar died from acute Propofol intoxication.

Prosecutors seek to prove Murray is responsible for Jackson's death. They contended Murray had failed to properly monitor Jackson after giving him a lethal dose of Propofol, and that the cardiologist "repeatedly acted with gross negligence" and "it was Dr. Murray's repeated incompetence and unskilled acts that led to Mr. Jackson's death."

Defense attorneys argued Murray was weaning Jackson off the medication. The cardiologist was hired by Jackson to care for him two months before his death.

Murray, who has been free on a bail of 75,000 U.S. dollars, faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted of the felony charge. 

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