LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson's frequent medical visits were tied to legitimate procedures and he was not doctor-shopping when he received treatments involving powerful pain medications in the 1980s and 1990s, his ex-wife told a jury on Thursday.
Testifying during a negligence lawsuit filed by Jackson's mother, Debbie Rowe said the singer was treated for scars he sustained when his scalp was burned in a commercial shoot and for the skin-lightening disease vitiligo.
Rowe, clutching a tissue and breaking down at times, described Jackson as being in debilitating pain throughout the nearly 20 years that she knew him. She said her husband trusted his doctors and depended on them to give him proper medications.
Jackson wouldn't specifically demand certain medications but had an intense fear of pain caused by procedures to try to repair his scalp, she said.
"When it came to the pain ... it was more begging for relief than anything," Rowe said. "He respected doctors so he wouldn't question what they were doing."
Rowe is the mother of the singer's two oldest children, Prince and Paris Jackson. She and the pop star were married from 1996 to 1999.
She is testifying in a case filed against AEG Live LLC, the promoter of Jackson's ill-fated "This Is It" comeback concerts.
Rowe hugged Katherine Jackson and held her hand during a break in testimony. Rowe was called to the witness stand by AEG Live attorneys but told the jury on Wednesday that she was not testifying for either side and wouldn't have come to court if she hadn't received a subpoena.
Jackson's scalp was badly burned when his hair caught on fire while filming a 1984 Pepsi commercial. The injuries left his scalp with painful scarring that required surgeries and injections of medications to try to lessen the pain and repair the damage.
Rowe said the injuries as well as the effects of vitiligo left Jackson feeling like he was disfigured.
Katherine Jackson claims in her lawsuit that AEG Live failed to properly investigate the doctor later convicted of giving her son an overdose of the anesthetic propofol while he prepared for a series of comeback shows in 2009.
AEG denies it hired Conrad Murray or bears any responsibility for the singer's death.
Marvin S. Putnam, the company's lead defense attorney, said in opening statements that the case was about Jackson's personal choices and his desire to use propofol as a sleep aid.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP