A makeup artist testified Friday that before a concert in Bangkok, Michael Jackson was having a hard time walking, seemed to be in a daze and stumbled over a potted tree in his dressing room before finally being led on stage to perform.
Karen Faye, who said she had worked with Jackson for more than two decades and considered him a close friend, said she knew the pop singer was using painkillers but she had refused requests to learn how to give him injections.
The testimony, by far the most dramatic so far in a wrongful death suit filed by the singer's mother and children, focused on a period in Jackson's life when he was recuperating from being seriously burned during a Pepsi ad and was under pressure because of child molestation allegations.
Faye testified that while backstage in Bangkok, she turned to someone she knew as "Dr. Forecast" and urged him not to let the wobbly Jackson take the stage.
"I put my arms around Michael and said, `You can't take him.' "
"Forecast replied, 'Yes I can,' " she testified.
The makeup artist testified the man, who she said was "an insurance doctor," backed her up against a wall and put his hands on her neck, choking her until she couldn't breathe.
"He said, `You don't know what you're up against,' " Faye testified.
The doctor, whose full name was not mentioned, took Jackson on stage to perform, she said.
The tour, though, would soon come to an end in Mexico City, when Elizabeth Taylor flew down to take the singer to a rehab facility outside London, she said.
"Everyone knew Michael had a problem," Faye said.
Faye testified she was at Jackson's side during the 2005 trial in which Jackson was acquitted of molestation, helping him prepare for court each morning.
Faye cried as she described dressing him and washing his hair. They would get on their knees and pray, then hug each other and cry. They would play classical music and watch "Three Stooges" videos.
While Jackson tried to be brave, "he couldn't eat. He was afraid," she testified. "The pain got worse. He got thinner. "