Michael Jackson suddenly awoke at 4:30 a.m. on April 19, 2009, stood on his bed and exclaimed "I told you I cannot sleep all night!"
Jackson's frustration, just as rehearsals for his comeback concerts were gearing up, marked the beginning of the end for the pop icon, a deterioration documented by emails, photographs and testimony presented in the wrongful death trial of concert promoter AEG Live.
Nurse Cherilyn Lee, who had been giving Jackson IV infusions of a cocktail of vitamins for two months to help him sleep, sat at his bedside. "It kind of scared me," Lee said. "It really startled me when he stared at me with his big brown eyes."
Jackson asked Lee to help him find an anesthesiologist to infuse him with the surgical anesthetic propofol because he was convinced it was the only cure for his insomnia, she testified.
Jackson had made the same request of Dr. Allan Metzger when the doctor, who had treated him for 26 years, visited his Los Angeles home a day earlier, according to Metzger's testimony.
Metzger and Lee testified that they refused, warning Jackson that it was unsafe to use the IV anesthetic outside of a hospital or clinic.
Jackson told Lee that doctors had assured him it was safe as long as he was properly monitored. She testified that she told Jackson that any doctor who would give him propofol at home didn't care about him and was just doing it for the money.
Jackson died 65 days later from an overdose of propofol, a drug that Dr. Conrad Murray told investigators he infused into Jackson almost every night for two months to put him to sleep.
Murray is a month away from being freed from jail after serving two years for an involuntary manslaughter conviction in Jackson's death.
Closing arguments begin Tuesday in the five-month-long trial to decide if AEG Live shares responsibility in Jackson's death for the negligent hiring, retention or supervision of Murray.
The 83 days of testimony that ended Friday included startling revelations about the pop icon's fatal search for sleep.
Burden of proof
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos instructed jurors Monday that Jackson's mother and three children have the burden of proving that their case is "more likely to be true than not true." Unlike in a criminal case, they do not have to prove it "beyond a reasonable doubt," she said. A verdict requires just nine of the 12 jurors to agree -- not a unanimous decision.
The Jacksons' lawsuit contends AEG Live is liable for damages in the singer's death because its executives hired Murray to serve as Jackson's personal physician for his "This Is It" tour and that they were negligent in hiring, retaining or supervising him.
Jurors will have a verdict form with 16 questions to answer during their deliberations. A "no" answer to any of the first five would end their deliberations and the trial immediately. Beyond that, they would decide what damages, if any, AEG Live would pay the Jacksons.
Question No. 1
Did AEG Live hire Murray?
Lawyers for the concert promoter argue that it was Jackson who chose and hired the doctor. Murray had treated Jackson and his children for minor illnesses for about three years while they were in Las Vegas. AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware began negotiations to hire Murray only at Jackson's insistence, they say.
A final contract between Murray and AEG Live -- with a third-party signature line for Jackson -- listed Murray's starting date as May 1, 2009. But it was not sent to Murray until just days before Jackson's death. Murray signed and returned it, but no AEG Live executive signed it after Jackson's death the next day. Neither Jackson, nor any of his representatives, ever saw the contract, according to testimony.
Jurors will have to decide if AEG Live's negotiations and actions, documented by several emails, constituted Murray's hiring in the absence of a signed contract.
Paul Gongaware, who was the top producer of Jackson's tour, wrote in an email on May 6, 2009, that it was a "done deal" that Murray was being hired for $150,000 a month to serve as Jackson's full-time physician.
Murray sent an email to AEG Live on May 15, 2009, saying he was "already fully engaged" in treating Jackson.
Jackson lawyers consider another Gongaware email sent 11 days before Jackson's death to be a smoking gun to show that AEG Live considered Murray to be under their control, not Jackson's. "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him," the AEG Live co-CEO wrote.
Question No. 2
Was Murray unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired?
Murray practiced as an interventional cardiologist, which mostly involved placing catheters into the arteries of heart disease patients. Jackson had no known heart issues, which the coroner confirmed in his autopsy report. Jackson's chief medical problem was his insomnia, for which Murray had no special training.
Murray treated Jackson's insomnia with nightly infusions of propofol, a drug that is supposed to be administered only by an anesthesiologist or a nurse anesthetist under the supervision of a doctor. It was an approach to sleep medicine that is universally condemned after the singer's overdose death.
Murray's competence is also questioned by his decision not to use proper monitoring equipment that is standard when putting a patient into a drug-induced coma.
Jackson lawyers say that Murray's dire financial condition, combined with the high salary offered by AEG Live, added to his incompetence. He decided to breach his ethical responsibility to do no harm to his patient because he feared losing the job that offered to deliver him from a mountain of debt, they argue.
AEG Live says that Murray was never sued for malpractice and that he was licensed to practice medicine in four states.
Question No. 3
Did AEG Live know or should it have known that Murray was unfit or incompetent and that this unfitness or incompetence created a particular risk to others?
The Jacksons accuse AEG Live of failing to check Murray's background, which would have revealed he was deep in debt and desperately dependent on the $150,000 a month they agreed to pay him.
Two Los Angeles police detectives testified that they concluded Murray's financial woes were at the root of his motive in the involuntary manslaughter of Jackson. His Las Vegas home was facing foreclosure, he was $1 million in debt and he was behind on support payments for several children, they said. Their suspicions were raised when they read his contract, which said he could lose the lucrative job if the tour was postponed or canceled, they said.
Jackson lawyers argue that AEG Live should have ordered a credit check for Murray because of the sensitive job he was being given. AEG Live lawyers say their executives could not have anticipated that his financial circumstances were relevant to his competency as a doctor.
A music industry veteran hired as an expert witness by Jackson lawyers testified that AEG Live's agreement with Murray set up an "egregious" conflict of interest in which the physician was beholden to the company and himself before Jackson's interests.
It was "not unlike the team doctor for a football team, where the quarterback is injured and the doctor comes to the medical conclusion that the quarterback should be taken out of the game for a period of weeks, but the team doesn't want him out," said David Berman, who once headed Capitol Records. "There is an inherent conflict."
It was the doctor's responsibility, not the concert promoter's, to avoid a medical conflict of interest, AEG Live lawyers argue.
They say their executives had no way of knowing about the dangerous propofol treatments Murray was giving Jackson in the privacy of his bedroom. They presented testimony from a parade of former Jackson doctors and Jackson's youngest brother, Randy, in an effort to show that the pop icon was a drug addict who kept his use of prescription medicines private.
But two doctors called by Jackson lawyers testified they had discussed Jackson's tendency to abuse painkillers, while on tour, with Paul Gongaware when he worked as Jackson's tour manager in the 1990s.