Jackson-AEG jury deliberations: Singer to blame for own death?

After a five-month trial, the jury in the Michael Jackson wrongful-death lawsuit against AEG Live will begin its first full day of deliberations on Friday.

The Jackson family is seeking personal damages of $85 million to each of Jackson's three children and $35 million to his mother. Those figures could be dwarfed by the economic damages, however. Attorney Brian Panish reminded jurors in closing arguments that an expert witness testified the singer would have earned $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion if he had lived.

The jury must consider five months of testimony that began in the spring and hundreds of exhibits. 

What the case may come down to is whether jurors think that Jackson is to blame for his own demise by insisting on hiring the doctor who killed him, or that AEG Live executives were such poor witnesses that nothing they said can be believed.

Jackson's mother and three children contend that AEG Live negligently hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, the Las Vegas physician who gave the singer a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to combat his severe insomnia. AEG says it was Jackson who brought Murray aboard.

AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam told jurors that Jackson had a history of propofol use.  

"He was a grown man, and he made his own choices," Putnam said. "You know Mr. Jackson chose Dr. Murray. You know Mr. Jackson chose propofol."

On the other side, Jackson's family attorneys relied on emails that seem to offer a real-time version of thoughts and events. The emails describe concerns about Jackson's deteriorating emotional and physical condition as he rehearsed for his 50 comeback concerts in London and reveal that an AEG attorney called Jackson a "freak."

AEG Live executives testified that they didn't remember many of the emails, saying during depositions that their lawyers told them not to review the messages.

During his closing argument, Jackson attorney Brian Panish put up a video showing AEG Live Chief Executive Randy Phillips, executive Paul Gongaware and Tim Leiweke, then chief executive of parent company Anschutz Entertainment Group, using a variation of "I don't know" as many as 30 times each.

"They made a legal strategy not to remember anything when they testified under oath," Panish told jurors. "They're not credible or worthy of belief."

The emails may present the most damaging pieces of evidence against AEG.


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