(CNS) The associate choreographer for Michael Jackson's planned "This Is It Tour" testified today that the singer gave solid rehearsals the two nights prior to his 2009 death.
"They were great," said Stacy Walker, who also was a dancer on the second leg of Jackson's "HIStory" tour in the late 1990s. "I finally saw what I was looking to see."
Taking the stand out of order as a defense witness in the Los Angeles Superior Court trial of the negligence and wrongful death lawsuit that Jackson's mother brought against entertainment giant AEG Live, Walker said the pop star also showed some unique sides of himself those nights.
"He was very bratty and sassy," Walker said. "He would punch at the camera, then say, `I'm sorry, it was all in love."'
Lawyers for 82-year-old Katherine Jackson, who filed the lawsuit in 2010 on behalf of herself and her son's three children, allege that AEG Live hired Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer and failed to supervise him properly.
AEG Live attorneys maintain that Jackson hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during his "This Is It Tour." Jackson was rehearsing for 50 sold-out tour dates in London at the time of his death on June 25, 2009, at age 50.
Walker said that while at Staples Center on June 25, her boss during the "This Is It Tour," head choreographer Travis Payne, was on his way to rehearse with Jackson at the singer's house. She said Payne called and said he heard a radio report about the entertainer being hospitalized.
Walker testified she asked show director Kenny Ortega what he knew, but he downplayed the reports. Walker said she told dancers rehearsing for the concerts not to worry.
But she said reality set in later in the day when she learned Jackson died.
"It was shocking. Just 12 hours ago, we did (the Jackson songs) `Thriller' and `Beat It,"' she said, fighting back tears.
Walker said she had some conversations with Jackson during preparation for the "This Is It Tour" that are now "very special to me in hindsight." She did not elaborate.
She said she was frustrated in the weeks before Jackson's death when he missed some rehearsals. But she said she gave him the benefit of the doubt, assumed he was well and thought maybe he wanted to be with his children.
She said Jackson also tended to don extra clothing.
"He wore a lot of jackets and I could assume he was cold," she said.
Walker, whose testimony came at the start of the trial's third week, also said Jackson looked much thinner than he did during the HIStory tour.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for giving the singer the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid and was sentenced to four years in jail.