Jackson wrongful death trial opens
02:01 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

AEG's lawyer refused to stipulate Michael Jackson is dead at a hearing last week

"Absolutely," he says when asked again Wednesday if he'd agree Jackson is dead

Detective: Money woes may have led Dr. Conrad Murray to "break the rules"

Murray's clinic was being evicted, home in foreclosure when hired as Jackson's doctor

Los Angeles CNN  — 

A week after AEG’s lawyer refused to concede for legal arguments that Michael Jackson is dead, he acknowledged the pop icon’s death in court.

The stipulation – an agreement between two parties in a case that something is a given fact – could save time in a trial that is expected to last several months.

Michael Jackson’s mother and children are suing AEG Live, contending the concert promoter is liable for the pop icon’s death because it negligently hired, retained and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter in his death.

While acknowledging Jackson died on June 25, 2009, AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam is still reluctant to stipulate what killed him and that Murray was the cause.

Here’s the courtroom exchange between Jackson lawyer Brian Panish and Putnam Wednesday:

Panish: “I’m asking for a stipulation that Michael Jackson died and the cause of death. Are you willing to stipulate that Michael Jackson died?”

Putnam: “Absolutely.”

Panish: “Are you willing to stipulate that the cause of his death was Dr. Murray?”

Putnam: “That you’ve never asked before. Let me look at what that means.”

Putnam refused to stipulate that Jackson was dead at a pretrial hearing last week, later explaining to CNN that he did not want to concede any elements that are needed to prove the case against AEG.

AEG organized and hosted a massive public memorial service for Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles 12 days after his death.

Prosecutors said Jackson’s death was caused by a fatal combination of the surgical anesthetic propofol and sedatives Murray gave him in a desperate effort to treat his insomnia.

Detective: Money woes may have led doctor to “break the rules

Los Angeles Police Detective Orlando Martinez delivered testimony this week that Jackson lawyers believe boosted their argument that Murray’s negligent treatment that killed Jackson was spurred by his deep financial trouble – something they contend AEG executives should have known.

Martinez, who led the department’s probe of Jackson’s death, testified that he suspected Murray’s “severely distressed” financial situation – including having his home in foreclosure, delinquent taxes, student-loan liens and unpaid child support – could have led him to give Jackson unsafe treatments.

One contention in the lawsuit is that the concert promoter should have known that Murray’s financial stress could have been a problem for the doctor.

After interviewing Murray two days after Jackson’s death, Martinez’s “thinking at the moment was the crime was negligence,” he testified.

Martinez, who will return to the stand for a third day of testimony Thursday, showed documents that said Murray’s Las Vegas home had lost $500,000 in value and was in foreclosure; his Las Vegas medical clinic faced eviction for non-payment of rent; he had a long list of loan defaults; and his expenses outweighed his income by $2,700 a month.

Murray, who initially asked AEG for $5 million to work for a year as Jackson’s personal physician, eventually agreed to take $150,000 a month.

“That’s a lot of money for anyone,” Martinez said. “Seeing the scene and talking to him about what he had done and how he did it raised questions.”

“Focusing on the financial aspect may have been important for Dr. Murray’s willingness to disregard his Hippocratic Oath for financial gain,” he testified.

What he learned about Murray’s financial troubles led him “to opine that he may have, for this easy money – the $150,000 a month – may break the rules, bend the rules, to do whatever he needed to do to get paid.”

Dr. Christopher Rogers, the deputy medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Jackson, will be called to testify after that questioning of Martinez concludes Thursday. No court is scheduled for Friday.