Chef describes Jacksons' grief
Michael Jackson's personal chef has described for jurors the home lives of the pop superstar's children during the final months of the singer's life and their continuing grief over their father's death nearly four years ago.
Gone are the freewheeling days when the children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, played with their father and traded jokes at the dinner table, chef Kai Chase told the jury. She said it has been replaced by a weight on eldest son Prince Michael Jackson's shoulders. Daughter Paris cries and no longer wants parties for her birthday since her father hosted a private circus for her 11th birthday. Youngest son Blanket, who remains home-schooled, wears a T-shirt with his father's image every Friday, she said.
Ms Chase recounted her interactions with Jackson, his children and her work with the singer's mother and children, for jurors hearing Katherine Jackson's negligent hiring case against concert promoter AEG Live. The company denies all wrongdoing.
After weeks of testimony about Jackson's business dealings with AEG, Chase's testimony returned the trial's focus to the King of Pop and his offspring. "At 16, the weight of the world is on his shoulders," Ms Chase said of Prince Jackson, who is trying to figure out girls and all the challenges adulthood brings.
Blanket has his older siblings to shield him from pain but had the least time to spend with his father. "He never really had a time when it was father-son because he was so tiny," Ms Chase said. The singer's only daughter seems to be having the hardest time, she added. "Being daddy's little girl, Paris is devastated. She's devastated and lost."
Ms Chase's testimony provided a look into the lives of Jackson's three children before and after their father's death in June 2009. Jackson was fiercely protective of their privacy, often using masks to hide their faces when they were in public.
She has daily interactions with Jackson's children since being hired to serve as their chef in July last year. Of Paris, she said: "She's trying to find herself and find who she is. It's taking a lot of love and understanding to keep her together. She breaks down, she cries, she talks about him."
She described the routines in Jackson's home in the months before his death, describing him as a vibrant and hands-on father. But by June 2009, Ms Chase said Jackson was deteriorating and she witnessed Prince having to help his father up a staircase to his bedroom.
She said she met AEG executives at the centre of the case, including chief executive Randy Phillips and executive Paul Gongaware, when they came to Jackson's home for meetings about the singer's ill-fated This Is It comeback concerts. One tense meeting in June started with a vase being broken - she didn't know by whom - and with Jackson and his personal physician storming out. The doctor, Conrad Murray, told her as he left the home, "I can't take this (stuff)."
If jurors determine AEG Live is liable for Jackson's death, they will have to determine any damages awarded to his mother and children.