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Michael Jackson's eldest son recalls pop star's final moments

Prince Jackson is the first relative to testify in a wrongful-death case. He says he saw his father lying halfway off a bed while Dr. Conrad Murray gave him CPR.

June 26, 2013|By Jeff Gottlieb
  • Michael Jackson's children Blanket, Paris and Prince Michael, shown in 2012. In court Wednesday, Prince described the chaos that erupted in the Jackson home when his father died.
Michael Jackson's children Blanket, Paris and Prince Michael, shown… (Dan Steinberg, Associated…)

Michael Jackson's son Prince was in the sitting room of the family's rented Holmby Hills mansion when he heard screaming. He ran to the kitchen and saw Dr. Conrad Murray dash upstairs.

Prince, 16, said he followed, and when he looked in the bedroom, he saw his father lying half off the bed, his eyes rolled back in his head and the man he called "Dr. Conrad" giving the pop singer cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

After the entertainer was rushed by ambulance to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Prince said he and his two siblings saw Murray again.

"Sorry, kids — Dad's dead," he said the doctor told them.

"We just cried," Prince said.

In sometimes dramatic testimony, Prince spent 90 minutes Wednesday detailing his father's frenzied final moments and the chaos that erupted in their house. Prince is the first family member to take the stand in the wrongful-death case that he, his two siblings and his grandmother have brought against AEG Live, the promoter and producer of Michael Jackson's comeback concerts in London.

Prince was ushered into the downtown Los Angeles courthouse through a garage below to avoid paparazzi and others seeking a peek. He wore a black suit and tie and white shirt, and his brown hair was tucked behind his ears, touching his shoulders.

The pop star's eldest child came across as a bright, composed teenager, a member of the National Honor Society who conceded his musical talents are limited, at best. His voice was quiet, and at times he seemed melancholy as he spoke of his father's death and how much he had meant to him.

His father would come home from rehearsals for his "This Is It" concerts happy about the way things were going but stressed that he wanted more time to practice before going on tour, Prince testified.

Michael Jackson would get upset after phone calls with AEG Live Chief Executive Randy Phillips or Tohme Tohme , his sometimes manager. "He would get off the phone, he would cry sometimes," Prince said.

"He would say, 'They're going to kill me, they're going to kill me.' "

Prince described a conversation between Phillips and Murray at the family home in which Phillips aggressively grabbed Murray's elbow. He said that the meeting took place shortly before his father's death and that he did not know what they were talking about.

Jackson died June 25, 2009, of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol that Murray administered.

Prince's testimony also offered a glimpse into his life, which was closely guarded while his father was alive.

He said he lives with his grandmother in Calabasas, just finished his sophomore year at a private school, makes jewelry, enjoys martial arts and is on the school's robotics team. He said he wants to go to USC to study film, business or mechanical engineering.

Although he enjoys music, he said, "I can never play an instrument. And I definitely can't sing."

He also spoke of living in Ireland, Paris, Bahrain, Las Vegas and Aspen, Colo., with his father and siblings. His attorneys showed home movies and photos of Neverland, the Santa Barbara County compound that Prince called "a very homey place,"

The children were allowed to ride the Ferris wheel and go to the compound's zoo — filled with alpacas and giraffes — only on special occasions. "My dad wanted us to remain humble," Prince said.

Spread around Neverland were messages and poems that their father posted, he said. "When children play, tyrants cry, there is nothing to say," said one that was scrawled on a rock.

Prince said that his father made him and his brother and sister wear masks in public "so no one would know what we looked like, so if we went out without him we could have a normal childhood."

Prince said he's now followed all the time. "So I know why he did it."

The one room at the Holmby Hills mansion that was always kept locked was for "meditation and medication," he said.

The Jacksons say in their lawsuit that AEG negligently hired and controlled Murray. AEG says it was the singer who hired the doctor and any money the company was supposed to pay him was part of an advance to Jackson.

The singer's son testified that his father sometimes gave Murray a couple of hundred dollars for food, gas and other essentials because AEG was not paying him.

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