Confronted with emails he wrote five days before Michael Jackson's death, the chief executive of AEG Live admitted Monday his characterizations of Conrad Murray, the doctor who gave the singer the fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol, were wrong.
Randy Phillips testified on the 25th day of testimony in the wrongful-death suit brought by Jackson's mother and three children against AEG Live and two of its executives, including Phillips.
After Kenny Ortega, the director of Jackson's 50 scheduled concerts in London, wrote an email saying Jackson needed psychiatric help, Phillips responded:
"I had a lengthy conversation with Dr. Murray, who I am gaining immense respect for as I get to deal with him more. He said that Michael was not only physically equipped to perform and, that discouraging him to, will hasten his decline instead of stopping it.
"Dr. Murray also reiterated that he is mentally able to and was speaking to me from the house where he had spent the morning with MJ. This doctor is extremely successful (we check every one) and does not need this gig so he totally unbiased and ethical.
"You cannot imagine the harm and ramifications of stopping this show now. It would far outweigh 'calling this game in the 7th inning.' I am not just talking about AEG's interests here, but the myriad of stuff and lawsuits swirling around MJ that I crisis manage every day and also his well-being.
"Please stay steady. Enough alarms have sounded. It is time to put out the fire, not burn the building down. Sorry for all the analogies."
Under contentious questioning from Jackson family attorney Brian Panish, Phillips said he was wrong when he characterized Murray as extremely successful, when he said AEG checked him out and when he said Murray was unbiased and ethical.
[For the record, 12:52 p.m. June 10: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that AEG official Randy Phillips said he was wrong when he said AEG didn't check out Dr. Conrad Murray. He said he was wrong when he said AEG checked out Murray.]
Phillips said Murray was "extremely successful" because the doctor had closed down several clinics to treat only Jackson for $150,000 a month.
"You would call it a false statement, I would call it an assumption," Phillips said.
Panish: "So what you wrote you admit was not true?"
"At the time I thought it was," Phillips said.
Earlier, Phillips said he did not recall what was discussed in a phone conversation with Murray. In his video deposition that was shown to the jury, Phillips first said the conversation lasted three minutes. He was shown phone records that showed it lasted 25 minutes.
The Jacksons claim in their suit that AEG Live negligently hired and supervised Murray. AEG says the singer hired Murray and that any money the firm was going to pay him would have been an advance to Jackson.