A police detective testified Wednesday about the depths of debt that Michael Jackson's doctor faced while giving the singer treatments of the powerful anesthetic that killed the pop superstar.
Los Angeles police Detective Orlando Martinez said in a case filed by Jackson's mother against concert giant AEG Live that Conrad Murray faced student loans, home loans, child support obligations and credit card payments that were in arrears in 2009. Plaintiff's attorney Brian Panish said the debts totaled nearly $1 million.
Martinez has said the debts may have led Murray to act inappropriately in his care of Jackson in order to ensure he received $150,000 a month payments from AEG Live LLC to serve as the singer's tour doctor.
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"He may break the rules, bend the rules, do whatever he needed to do to get paid," Martinez said Tuesday. "It might solve his money problems."
Murray's finances were not a factor in the criminal case that ended with his 2011 conviction for administering a fatal dose of propofol to Jackson.
The former cardiologist is not a party to Katherine Jackson's negligent hiring case against the concert promoter, but he is a key figure. The Jackson family matriarch contends AEG did not properly investigate Murray before allowing him to serve as Jackson's tour physician for the ill-fated "This Is It" shows planned for 2009.
Martinez testified he found most of the debts against Murray in public records.
Martinez's testimony Wednesday was bogged down by continuous objections from AEG attorneys and the detective spent most of an hour-long session authenticating public records. He testified briefly about Murray's phone records before court recessed for the day so that an alternate juror could attend a funeral.
AEG denies it hired Murray, and its attorney has noted that Jackson and his children had been treated by the doctor before the shows were planned.
Martinez is the second witness called in the case, which in its early stages will focus on Jackson's death. Potential witnesses later in the trial include stars such as Diana Ross, Quincy Jones and Spike Lee. Jackson's mother, several siblings and his two oldest children, Prince and Paris, are also listed as potential witnesses.
Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake in the trial, which may last 90 court days.
AEG attorneys said they intend to call Murray as a witness. He remains in a Los Angeles jail and is appealing his conviction.
AEG Live is a subsidiary of the Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group.