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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Expert: Jackson was sleep-deprived

Published 22/06/2013 | 02:12

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Michael Jackson was totally sleep deprived by the time of his death, a sleep expert told a jury

Michael Jackson's inability to learn new dance moves and remember the lyrics to his songs were symptoms that the singer was totally sleep deprived by the time of his death, a sleep expert has told a jury.

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Charles Czeisler said reports by workers on Jackson's ill-fated comeback concerts that the entertainer was losing weight, exhibiting signs of paranoia and his condition seemed to be deteriorating were consistent with someone who had not had any real sleep in a long time.

The sleep deprivation is likely to have been caused by Jackson's use of the anaesthetic propofol, which Mr Czeisler said would put the singer in a drug-induced coma and not meet his body's need for sleep. Studies showed that similar levels of sleep deprivation resulted in the deaths of laboratory animals and were likely to cause the death of a human, he said.

The extreme nature of Jackson's sleep deprivation would have shortened the singer's life unless he received appropriate treatment, Mr Czeisler said. With proper treatment, Jackson could have continued to tour and perform for many years, he added.

Mr Czeisler relied heavily on summaries of testimony provided by a plaintiff's lawyer and emails from choreographers and others working on Jackson's This Is It tour to form his opinion. The testimony detailed Jackson's missed rehearsals and reports that he was picking up dance moves slowly, as well as that he requested a teleprompter to display lyrics to his songs. "The meticulous detailing of his deterioration here was both profound and sad," Mr Czeisler said.

The Harvard professor and sleep researcher is testifying in a lawsuit filed by the singer's mother against concert promoter AEG Live. On cross-examination by AEG defence attorney Kathryn Cahan, the researcher acknowledged that he had not reviewed actual testimony from the case, including statements from AEG executives that they thought the singer appeared fine and had stellar rehearsals before his death.

Czeisler, who is being paid 950 dollars (£616) an hour for his work on the case, said he reached his opinion after reviewing deposition transcripts, medical records and other evidence shown to jurors during Katherine Jackson's eight-week case against AEG. A lawyer for Katherine Jackson summarised the evidence used to form the basis for Mr Czeisler's opinion in a 17-minute, 1,833-word question that caused the trial to grind to a halt on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Michael Koskoff's inquiry was posed as a hypothetical question to Mr Czeisler that included a summary of testimony, passages of emails already shown to jurors and other evidence presented during trial.

A judge said the question contained details that were inadmissible in the trial and misstated several other details. Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos opted not to strike the question from the record but allowed Mr Koskoff to clarify it, which took another 19 minutes. Lawyers spent about an hour arguing over the structure of the lengthy question, leaving jurors waiting for nearly 30 minutes.

Katherine Jackson's negligent hiring suit claims AEG Live is responsible for her son's death because it failed to properly investigate Conrad Murray, who was convicted of giving Jackson a fatal dose of propofol, and missed warning signs about his health. AEG denies it hired Murray or could have known that the former cardiologist was giving Jackson propofol as a sleep aid.

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