LOS ANGELES (AP) — The head of AEG Live told a jury on Tuesday that he believes a lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson’s mother against the concert promotion company was a baseless extortion attempt.
CEO Randy Phillips also said the company bears no responsibility for Jackson’s 2009 death, as his mother contends.
Katherine Jackson is suing AEG Live LLC, claiming it failed to properly investigate the doctor who was later convicted of her son’s death. AEG denies wrongdoing.
Phillips said he agreed with statements attributed to him and defense attorney Marvin S. Putnam that the case was a shakedown.
“Yes or no, answer? Yes,” Phillips said in response to a question by Katherine Jackson’s attorney Brian Panish.
Phillips is the highest-ranking AEG executive to testify in the case, now in its sixth week.
He will likely be asked about numerous emails he sent and received about Jackson’s health in the final weeks of the superstar’s life, as well as any interactions he had with former cardiologist Conrad Murray.
Murray agreed to serve as Jackson’s doctor for $150,000 a month while he performed 50 shows titled “This Is It” in London’s 02 Arena in 2009 and early 2010.
AEG denies hiring Murray and agreeing to pay Murray’s fee as an advance to Jackson.
Phillips’ testimony came after several days of often tense testimony from AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware, who told jurors he did not remember numerous details about Jackson’s rehearsals and emails he sent about the singer.
Panish sparred with Gongaware, and pointedly questioned Phillips, whom he called to the stand as a hostile witness.
Panish asked Phillips whether he was eager to tell his side of the story.
“I believe you called me as a witness, so I’m here,” Phillips said flatly.
Panish at one point asked the executive whether he was familiar with the music industry.
“Familiar with the music industry? I was working in it,” Phillips replied.
At another point in his testimony when the executive appeared to crack a smile, Panish asked if he thought the proceedings were funny.
“No, I think it’s tragic.” Phillips replied.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A few snow showers will drift through the snowbelt Friday. More snow will move in Friday night and into Saturday throughout the region.
An Ohio Lottery Commission employee was indicted Thursday on a felony count of theft in office.
Michael Hingson remembers Sept. 11, 2001, because he lived through it. He was on the 78th floor of the North Tower when the first plane hit.
The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley doesn't want to leave anyone out in the cold during these frigid temperatures.
Families in Liberty Township who may be struggling are getting some help this holiday season.
On Thursday, some YSU business students showcased some of the work they have been doing as part of an e-commerce and social media course.
A truck driver lost his brakes and crashed into a fence, turning it on its side.
The Mahoning County Commissioners passed their 2014 budget on Thursday.
Some officers in Trumbull County were brushing up on their skills Thursday in the event that they are ever put in a situation with an armed suspect.
A Youngstown toddler who battled testicular cancer and is now cancer-free was going to have a night he would never forget on Thursday.
The Wean Foundation on Thursday announced $950,000 in grants that will be split among three organizations.
Bristol Local schools are planning to close for one day to allow students and faculty to attend the funeral services of a former teacher.
A bill now being considered in Columbus could one day give judges across the state more options when it comes to handling cases involving those with serious mental illness.
A woman was killed in a one-vehicle crash Thursday morning in Columbiana County.
A man accused of stealing a car and leading police on a high-speed chase last week was indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury.
A man accused of robbing a Youngstown pizza shop and crashing his pickup after a high-speed police chase into Boardman was indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury.