Los Angeles, Calif. – Kenny Ortega, Michael Jackson’s choreographer and friend, testified at the manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray Tuesday, saying he believed the singer had been abusing drugs, and noting Jackson had gone missing for about a week in June 2009, not long before his death.
Under direct examination by the prosecution, Ortega said he was concerned about Jackson because he believed the famed entertainer was ill in the days prior to his demise. He said when he expressed his concerns to Dr. Murray about Jackson’s health, he felt berated.
Ortega also testified that Jackson was extremely “excited” about his upcoming concert tour, ‘This Is It.’ Nonetheless, in late June 2009 he said something was wrong with Jackson, which worried Ortega. He noted that Jackson did not seem to be himself and at times appeared to be “incoherent.”
On June 20, Ortega penned an email to an executive at AEG – the company backing Jackson’s tour. In it, he wrote Jackson “should be psychologically evaluated” and noted that the singer had “a terrible case of the chills, was trembling, rambling and obsessing.” Ortega also said in the email that he felt “there is no one taking responsibility… for him [Jackson] on a daily basis…” He pondered as to where Jackson’s assistant was and wrote, “Tonight I was feeding him, wrapping him in blankets to warm his chills, massaging his feet to calm him and calling his doctor.” Ortega also noted that if the concert tour was canceled, it would “break” Jackson’s heart.
To watch a portion of Ortega’s testimony, along with a video regarding Ortega’s email, click here.
Ortega testified that on June 23, Jackson appeared to have made a complete turn around and came to rehearsals full of life and energy, calling him “a different Michael.”
However, just two days later Ortega received a phone call from AEG Live Co-CEO Paul Gongaware telling him Jackson had been taken to the hospital. He received another call later in the day in which Gongaware stated, “we lost him.”
To watch the Michael Jackson manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray live when court is in session, click here.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Ed Chernoff, Ortega said Murray had been in charge of Jackson’s schedule not long before he died. He also admitted he believed the King of Pop was abusing drugs, noting the singer “went missing for about a week” just prior to June 19.
To see photos used for prosecution opening statements at the trial regarding Michael Jackson’s death, click here.
Murray is charged with manslaughter, accused of administering a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol to Jackson on June 25. His defense, however, has argued that Murray did not give the singer enough of the drug to kill him and that Jackson took the lethal dose of propofol himself without Murray’s knowledge.
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