Michael Jackson-AEG: Fans line up to watch wrongful-death trial
Silvia Gusmami and Laura Messina jetted in from Italy just for a chance to watch the Michael Jackson wrongful-death case, joining other fans at a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Monday who jockeyed for two lottery seats being made available to the public for the opening day of the trial.
The two women said they spent last week watching attorneys pick jurors in the case, which is expected to last as long as four months.
The case, in which Jackson’s mother and children have accused entertainment giant AEG of hiring and controlling the doctor who gave the pop singer a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol, is expected to dive into the sensational elements of the entertainer’s life.
Gusmami and Messina said they are among the Jackson faithful who intend to follow the case.
Messina, 35, with straight, chest-length black hair, and a nose similar to the last version that Michael Jackson modeled, admitted her friends say she looks like the entertainer.
The two women are veteran Jacksonians, having come from Europe to watch the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s 2009 death on the eve of what was to be a run of comeback concerts in London.
“We want justice for him,” said Messina, a translator. “It was a conspiracy. There is a part of his fans that knows the truth. More in Europe than here.”
Julia Thomas also was among the Jackson faithful.
The 40-year-old took the day off from her job as a high school office administrator and drove 70 miles from her home near Rialto to vie for a seat.
“It’s nothing when you love Michael as much as I love him,” she said. “Somebody has to come out and speak up for him.”
Thomas sat on a bench beside Karlene Taylor, a woman she met during Murray’s arraignment. Thomas had been overcome with emotion that day when Jackson family members arrived in a blue Cadillac Escalade -- the pop legend’s own vehicle.
“I was breaking down crying and she came and comforted me,” Thomas said of Taylor. “We’re like BFF now.”
The two say the civil case has divided the Michael Jackson fan community. Some believe the Jackson family’s greed propelled Jackson’s mother and three children to file the wrongful-death suit.
Others, like Taylor and Thomas, are steadfast in their belief that the Jackson family has every right to say AEG is at fault when it comes to Jackson’s death.
“This here is a case where he was an artist who was abused and bullied by his promoters and it stressed him out where he needed a sedative to be put to sleep,” Thomas said. “That’s why AEG is liable.”
The two women did not win seats inside the courtroom, but were glad to hear that Taaj Malik, who runs www.teammichaeljackson.com, got inside. “We want good fans going in who will report the correct information to us,” Thomas said.
One fan who did get inside said the opportunity was “bittersweet.” Samantha De Gosson, a 38-year-old photographer from Pasadena looked overwhelmed as she waited in the hallway.
“I’m happy I can go in, but not looking forward about what’s going to be said,” she said. “This is a trial where Michael Jackson will be thrown under the bus by both parties. It’s not really about justice. It’s about who’s going to make money.”
Though Gusmami and Messina didn’t win court seats Monday, they do have another week in the United States.
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