Describing the King of Pop as being "at the end of his rope," Michael Jackson's ex-wife on Wednesday testified that the singer twice used the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid in the 1990s.
Debbie Rowe's testimony in a Los Angeles courtroom was the first evidence in Jackson's wrongful-death trial that the singer had previously used propofol -- which eventually killed him -- for a purpose other than medical procedures.
Rowe was called as a witness by AEG Live in the lawsuit filed by Jackson's mother and three children. The Jacksons say that AEG negligently hired and supervised Conrad Murray, the cardiologist who administered the fatal dose of propofol to Jackson in June 2009 as he was rehearsing for a 50-concert comeback in London.
AEG says that the singer hired Murray and that any money the company was supposed to pay the doctor was an advance to Jackson.
On Wednesday, Rowe testified that while performing in Germany in the mid-1990s, she and Jackson called Dr. Allan Metzger, Jackson's internist, complaining that the singer couldn't sleep. She said Jackson told her that sleeping pills hadn't worked and that "he was at the end of his rope."
Metzger arranged for a German medical team to go to Jackson's hotel suite in Munich. Rowe said the two Germans brought enough equipment that the hotel room resembled a surgical suite.
Rowe said her husband was unconscious for eight hours while the medical team monitored him. She said Jackson used the anesthetic again three days later, but it was the only time she witnessed the singer using the anesthetic for sleep.
Experts have testified that being unconscious from propofol is not the same as sleep.
Earlier in the day, Rowe portrayed the singer as being whipsawed between doctors who were competing to see who could give him the most powerful painkillers while she was trying to wean him from the drugs.
She spent much of her testimony describing drugs administered by dermatologist Arnold Klein, her employer, and plastic surgeon Steven Hoefflin, saying they would try to one-up each other by prescribing Jackson stronger drugs.
"These idiots were going back and forth the whole time, not caring about him," she testified.
Rowe said she was with Jackson about 10 times when Hoefflin gave him propofol while undergoing various procedures, such as collagen and botox injections. She said Klein also gave him propofol.
"Michael had a very low pain tolerance, and his fear of pain was incredible, and I think the doctors took advantage of him that way," Rowe said.
Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two oldest children, spoke in colorful, folksy language and joked about her 60-mile drive to the downtown Los Angeles courtroom. But she also flashed anger at an AEG attorney and cried several times.
She portrayed herself as the singer's best friend and guardian. "He trusted people -- foolishly, foolishly trusted a lot of people," she said as Jackson's mother nodded in agreement.