Michael Jackson spent the last months of his life frightened and on edge, convinced that he would be killed by people wanting to get access to his valuable music catalog, according to his sister, La Toya Jackson.
Jackson makes the claims in her new book, "Starting Over," which also chronicles her own troubles, including an abusive marriage to her late ex-manager/husband, Jack Gordon.
Jackson says that she and her brother went through similar experiences of being controlled and manipulated by shadowy figures that cut them off from their family.
"The difference is, I was eventually able to get away and start over; Michael can't start over," she said.
Saturday will mark the two-year anniversary of the King of Pop's death at age 50. Dr. Conrad Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of giving him an overdose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives. He has pleaded not guilty; the trial is set for September.
However, Jackson's sister called Murray "the fall guy." She said there were other people who needed to be investigated and described Jackson's death as part of a wide conspiracy. Jackson was the co-owner of the lucrative Sony/ATV catalog, the copyright holder of the Beatles' and other artists' songs, and his older sister contends he was murdered for control of it.
"This is definitely something that was premeditated, that they had planned to do, and they planned to take my brother out, and my brother knew it, and that's why my brother told me repeatedly, repeatedly and repeatedly, that this was going to happen to him," she said in an interview Wednesday. "He explained to me, 'It's because of my catalog.'"
Jackson had harsh words for John Branca, the co-executor of Jackson's estate, accusing him of being more interested in his own interests than those of the beneficiaries of the estate — Jackson's mother, his three children and charitable causes.
"They care about what they can do and what they can get their hands on, and no one in the family has anything to do with the estate," she said. "At this point, blatantly said, John Branca right now is Michael Jackson."
In response to Jackson's statements, the estate issued this statement: "After numerous hearings and after reviewing evidence contained in countless filings and exhibits, three California courts have decided John Branca and John McClain are the rightful and lawful executors of Michael Jackson's Estate just as Michael specified in his will.
"Mr. Branca and Mr. McClain have turned the estate around financially for the benefit of Michael's children and mother, protected the intellectual property and music catalog assets Michael accumulated during his lifetime as well as carried out their mandate to shelter and preserve funds for his children until they reach certain ages as adults. Their performance as the executors of Michael's estate is a matter of extensive public record and speaks for itself."
Jackson's three children — Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket — are being cared for by Jackson's mother, Katherine. Unlike when they were in their father's care, they no longer shield their faces with masks and have entered private school: "They are adjusting very well," Jackson said.
Jackson, who has appeared on "Celebrity Apprentice" and "Dancing With the Stars" since her brother's death, was once estranged from her brother and the rest of her family. She even went so far as to support charges that Jackson was a child molester when he was first accused of the crime in 1993 (he was not charged in that case and was acquitted of similar charges in 2005).
But she said she was then under the control of her ex-husband, who forced her to say negative things about her brother. She said Gordon beat her on a regular basis and threatened the lives of her family; she eventually broke away from him with the intervention of her brother Randy, according to the book.
Jackson, who now calls Michael "godlike," said the day she spoke out against her brother was the worst day of her life. However, she said Jackson forgave her.
"He said, 'La Toya ... I know your heart, and I know you would never do anything like that, and I know he forced you and made you to do that," she said. "He says, 'I love you, and I will always love you.'"
Jackson said she's gratified that Jackson's once tarnished image has been rehabilitated after his death.
"I think it's wonderful that people remember him in a wonderful light," she said.
Nekesa Mumbi Moody can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi