Secrets of the Michael Jackson Trial

Drugs, ghosts, violence and much more, as testimony rolls into its fourth month

michael jackson london 2009
Eamonn McCormack/WireImage
Michael Jackson at the London press conference.
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The Jackson family's lawsuit against AEG Live, the promoter that planned Michael Jackson's London comeback concerts at the O2 Arena in London, is serious business. Michael's mother, Katherine, seeks billions of dollars in damages, arguing that AEG negligently hired Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of giving the insomniac Jackson a drug combination including the anesthetic propofol, which caused him to die in his sleep. AEG denies responsibility. The months-long trial has been full of strange details – here are the strangest.

100 Greatest Singers: Michael Jackson

His promoter was a bully
To motivate a recalcitrant Jackson before the London press conference announcing the This Is It shows, AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips (according to an e-mail he sent a colleague), "slapped him and screamed at him." Phillips testified that he was acting like a coach: "I slapped him on the butt."

His kids' nanny was really weird
According to Paris Jackson's testimony, Grace Rwaramba, former nanny to Jackson's kids, would call hotels, tell staff she was his wife and be admitted to his room, where she would slip into the star's bed. "She was obsessed with him," Paris said.

He probably went longer without REM sleep than any human ever
A Harvard Medical School sleep expert, Dr. Charles Czeisler (who has also worked with the CIA and the Rolling Stones), testified that the 60 straight nights Jackson spent on propofol resulted in a "constellation of symptoms" including paranoia, erratic behavior and severe weight loss.

100 Greatest Artists: Michael Jackson

Violence and threats were common in Jackson's world
Jackson's makeup artist Karen Faye testified that once, before a concert in 1993, the singer became ill and she encouraged him to bail on the show. She claims that a doctor provided by the tour's insurance company choked her until she couldn't breathe and said, "You don't know what you're up against."

He really did have a rodent for a childhood friend
Echoing his song "Ben," Katherine testified that, as a boy, Michael once smuggled a mouse into a Beverly Hills restaurant in his coat pocket.

According to Lionel Richie's ex, his ghost has no problem with Dr. Murray
While on the stand, AEG Live's Phillips recalled a conversation he had with Lionel Richie's ex-wife Brenda. Jackson's ghost, Phillips testified, told her the superstar had "accidentally killed himself" and absolved Murray of responsibility. A Jackson family attorney objected, but the judge let the testimony stand.

This story is from the August 15th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 1189: August 15, 2013