Jackson death doctor had huge debts, trial hears

MUMBAI: Michael Jackson‘s doctor Conrad Murray was in dire financial straits when he was hired to care for the US superstar, a policeman testified Wednesday.

Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 over Jackson‘s death, had tens of thousands of dollars in debts, including unpaid student loans, credit card bills and rent on his business, the policeman said at a trial over the late King of Pop‘s 2009 death.

Jackson‘s 82-year-old mother Katherine is suing tour promoter AEG Live over her son‘s death, accusing it of negligently hiring Murray and ignoring signs that the singer was deeply unwell, in their pursuit of profits.

Her lawyers say Murray‘s financial woes made him willing to do whatever Jackson wanted -- including giving him the drug that killed him -- because he desperately needed the $150,000 monthly salary on offer.

Detective Orlando Martinez, who investigated Jackson‘s death on 25 June 2009 -- days before the tour was due to start -- said Murray had debts in various places, including the US states of Nevada and Missouri, some of over $100,000.

"Does this substantiate your opinion that Dr. Murray was in dire financial straits?" Katherine Jackson‘s lawyer Brian Panish asked Martinez in the LA superior court; where the trial started Monday.

"Yes," replied Martinez.

The 50-year-old singer died from an overdose of powerful sedative and anesthetic propofol, administered by Murray to help the "Thriller" legend deal with chronic insomnia.

At the time of his death, he was rehearsing for a series of 50 shows in London, organised with AEG, in an attempt to revive his career and ease his financial woes.

In opening statements Monday, Katherine Jackson‘s lawyer accused AEG of sacrificing the troubled star in a "ruthless" pursuit of profit in the months before his death.

But Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) lawyer Marvin Putnam argued the mega pop star had hidden the evidence of his addiction and health woes from everyone, including his family and the concert promoters.

Putman also said Jackson was some $400 million dollars in debt when he approached AEG in 2008 with the idea of putting on the London shows, which were to be followed by a global tour and a possible Las Vegas residency.

On Tuesday the first witness at the trial, paramedic Richard Senneff, testified that Jackson looked emaciated and like someone at the end of a chronic illness when he arrived at the scene.

Wednesday‘s court session was shortened because one member of the six-man, six-woman jury had to attend a family funeral. The trial continues Thursday, with detective Martinez due to take the stand again. (AFP)

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