Pop Culture

Michael Jackson's ex-wife: Doctors 'took advantage' of his 'fear of pain' 

The wrongful death trial of Michael Jackson took an emotional turn Wednesday as the late singer's ex-wife took the stand in the civil case, describing how Jackson's fear of pain had helped lead to his dependence on numerous doctors.

"Michael respected doctors immensely," said Debbie Rowe, who was married to Jackson from 1996-99 and is the mother of his two oldest children, Prince and Paris Jackson. "His fear of pain was incredible, and I think the doctors took advantage of him that way."

Rowe was called as a witness for AEG Live, which is being sued by Jackson's mother Katherine and his children for allegedly hiring Dr. Conrad Murray, the man who administered the drug, propofol, that killed Jackson in June 2009. 

She noted that his dermatologist and plastic surgeon would try to one-up one another with "better" drugs for him, and added that Jackson had been using propofol as early as the 1990s. His hotel room on tour in Europe, she explained, was turned into a surgical suite so he could be administered the drug as a sedative.

"It was a risky move calling Debbie Rowe," said Professor Laurie Levenson of Loyola Marymount School of Law in an interview with TODAY. "(Jurors) might say, you know, Michael Jackson was so vulnerable, so gullible, AEG should have been more careful when they hired Dr. Murray."

One key issue of the case is who actually hired Murray (who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the singer): Jackson, or his tour promoter, AEG Live.

Rowe returns to court on Thursday to face cross-examination.