LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson’s son Prince was set to take the stand Wednesday at his family’s trial against tour promoter AEG Live, a day after fans marked the fourth anniversary of the singer’s death.
A family spokesman confirmed that the 16-year-old, the eldest of the late star’s three children, will testify at the civil trial in which AEG Live is accused of negligently hiring the doctor convicted over Jackson’s death.
“He is ready for it! He is very confident,” family spokeswoman Angel Howansky told AFP late Tuesday, ahead of the scheduled 9:45 am (1645 GMT) start of testimony in a Los Angeles courtroom.
Prince Jackson will be by far most prominent witness so far at the wrongful death trial, which started at the end of April.
Jackson died at his rented Holmby Hills mansion in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009 of an overdose of surgical anesthetic propofol, administered by his personal doctor Conrad Murray to help him sleep.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 over the death of the 50-year-old self-styled King of Pop.
Jackson’s mother Katherine is suing AEG Live, alleging that they negligently hired Murray, a cardiologist, and should have known that he was unsuitable to care for the singer.
The current trial, and the 2009 court case, have aired details of Jackson’s long-time struggle with insomnia and abuse of a number of drugs, including propofol.
Jackson’s daughter Paris was also listed before the AEG trial as among witnesses due to be called. But it is now thought unlikely she will testify, after she was hospitalized earlier this month following a suicide attempt.
Fans of the singer gathered Tuesday at the Forest Lawn celebrity cemetery, just north of Los Angeles, where Jackson’s body is buried. Huge numbers of flowers were placed on his mausoleum.
“You are not alone. In a distance we are apart. Thoughts of you are always in our hearts,” read a banner held aloft by one of hundreds of fans, many dressed in black.
As well as thousands of roses, there were hundreds of cards with poems, portraits of Jackson, little banners in front of the mausoleum, and paintings of roses, sunflowers and hearts.
A couple of people had Jackson umbrellas, one had a silver right glove, while a couple of Jackson impersonators had pictures taken with fans.
Yoli Leung, from Hong Kong, said she came every year on the anniversary of Jackson’s death. The manager of a Canadian electronics company, she was there with four other Chinese fans.
“It is a long long flight, too tired. We love Michael, we want to be with him,” she told AFP. Asked why they love him, she said: “Not only for his music and performance, but also for his message of love and his heart.”
Back at the courtroom downtown, a handful of fans turned up, as many of them have almost every day since the AEG trial started.
Spanish fan Raquel Tormo, 35, said she came from Madrid with her 16-year-old daughter Graciela, to pay tribute to Jackson. Her dream was to see Katherine Jackson, who has also been in court regularly, including on Tuesday.
“Michael is not dead, it’s all a game,” she told AFP. “Michael staged a fake death.” Asked why she thinks he is still alive, she replied: “Because I am a believer.”