LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A nurse practitioner who gave nutritional advice to Michael Jackson as he planned for his never-realized “This Is It” tour told a jury today that the singer was so anxious to have access to propofol that he suggested she bring an anesthesiologist to his home.
Cherilyn Lee said Jackson also suggested that she could be present as he was administered the powerful anesthetic while monitored by a physician. The singer believed propofol was the only thing he could take to assure he would overcome insomnia and perform well during rehearsals, Lee testified.
“He was extremely persistent when he asked me for it,” she testified.
Jackson believed propofol was a safe sleep aid because his doctors had told him so, Lee said.
She quoted the entertainer as saying, “I only have a little while left for rehearsals, I have to sleep all night. I need something that’s going to knock me out.”
Lee said that four days before Jackson’s June 25, 2009, death, she received a phone call from his security staff. She said she could hear the singer in the background, saying, “Tell her that one side of my body is hot and the other side is cold.”
Lee said Jackson’s comment concerned her and she suggested to the security personnel that he get help.
“I said he should be taken to the hospital,” Lee said.
The call turned out to be the last words she ever heard from Jackson or anyone connected with him before he died, she said.
The singer’s mother, Katherine Jackson, filed suit in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her late son’s three children, alleging that “This Is It” tour promoter AEG Live hired Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer and failed to supervise him properly.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s drug overdose death and sentenced to four years in jail. The doctor intravenously administered propofol as a sleep aid to the singer, who was living in a rented Holmby Hills home while rehearsing for the tour.
AEG Live attorneys maintain that Jackson hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during the 50 sold-out concert dates at London’s O2 Arena as part of an independent contractor arrangement.
Lee, in her second day of testimony, said she looked after Jackson from late January 2009 until mid-April of that year. She was initially hired to help his children with an illness, but the singer soon began consulting her about changing his nutrition habits in advance of the concert series, the witness said.
Jackson went along with her ideas in the beginning, ridding his home of energy drinks and replacing them with healthy certified organic juices, she said. But after he returned from a March 2009 news conference to announce the “This Is It” tour, the stress of the rehearsal demands seemed to be building, she said.
At one point during today’s testimony Lee appeared taken aback when shown a photo of a smiling, but gaunt Jackson taken just days before his death at age 50.
“You sure that’s him?,” Lee asked under questioning by plaintiffs’ attorney Deborah Chang. “Oh, my goodness. He did not look like that. That’s horrible.”
Despite Jackson’s insistence on having propofol, Lee said she never saw vials of the drug around his home up until her departure two months before his death. She also said she never saw Murray at the residence or knew who he was until after the singer died.
Lee said Jackson has been mischaracterized in the press since his death.
“I know he was not on drugs,” Lee said, scoffing at media reports stating the singer had tracks on his arms.
The singer also was not a “doctor-shopper,” she said, adding, “All he was doing was looking for the best doctor to help him with his insomnia.”
Lee described Jackson as a humble person who valued being with his children above all else. She said she was pleasantly surprised that he ate dinner with his offspring and wanted to be the best father possible.
She also said the pop star did not engage in small talk.
“He did not gossip, and that was so refreshing,” she said.
Lee said that just as she wanted to use her knowledge about nutrition to help people like Jackson feel better, he wanted to do the same through his artistic talents.
“I want to use my music to help heal the world,” Jackson said, according to Lee.
Trial of the suit today concluded its 18th week in Los Angeles Superior Court.
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