Before Michael Jackson asked a doctor to treat his insomnia with propofol, he tried falling asleep to the physician reading him bedtime stories.
The pop star's desperate decades-long search for sleep ultimately led to his death when he overdosed on the surgical anesthetic on June 25, 2009.
The trial to decide if Jackson's last concert promoter is liable for his death is nearing an end after more than four months of testimony.
AEG Live's lawyers plan to rest their defense case this week, with Jackson lawyers presenting several rebuttal witnesses. Closing arguments are likely the last week of September.
Dr. Barney Van Valin, whose video testimony was shown to jurors Friday, refused Jackson's request for propofol infusions in 2003, but six years later -- in Van Valin's words -- another physician "put him to sleep like a dog."
Jackson's mother and three children contend AEG Live is liable for his death because the company hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Jackson's propofol overdose. Murray told investigators he gave Jackson nightly infusions of the drug to treat his insomnia the last two months of his life.
AEG Live lawyers argue Jackson, not their executives, chose and controlled Murray and that the company had no way of knowing about the dangerous treatments in the privacy of the singer's bedroom.
The producers ignored warning signs that Jackson's health was deteriorating, and instead of finding another doctor to intervene, they kept Murray and made him responsible for getting Jackson to rehearsals for his comeback concerts, the Jacksons contend.
MJ and doctor were "best friends"
Van Valin's practice is near the Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California, where Jackson lived until his acquittal in a child molestation trial in 2005.
"We were best friends, you know," Van Valin testified. "I didn't have a better friend and I don't think he did."
Jackson "would just show up" at Van Valin's home every week or so without warning, he said. The doctor would open his door to leave for work in the morning "and he would just be standing there."
His driver told him once that Jackson had been waiting at his door for 35 minutes, not wanting to knock because he thought that was impolite.
Van Valin's children would stay home from school some days Jackson visited.
"I'd come home from work and there's Michael there at the house and they're watching cartoons or, you know, eating pizza," Van Valin said. At first it was a novelty, but after several years it was routine, he said.
The doctor was asked under cross examination if Michael Jackson was a good father.
"No, he is an amazing father," he answered. "Because I'm a good father and he was better than me. He respected them and as they respected him and he would correct them gently."
Doctor: Jackson didn't fake pain to get drugs
AEG Live's defense includes the contention that Jackson cultivated friendships with doctors to gain access to drugs to feed a secretive addiction. But Van Valin denied Jackson ever used their friendship to get prescriptions to medication that were not clinically indicated.
Although he was compelled to testify as a witness for AEG Live, Van Valin's testimony boosted the Jackson case by showing that Jackson's use of painkillers was medically justified by chronic pain suffered in a 1997 stage accident, Jackson lawyers said.
The doctor said Jackson showed the "classic symptoms of lower back pain" and an MRI study confirmed a bulge in a disc in his lower spine consistent with where his pain was.
Van Valin said he never suspected Jackson was faking his pain to get painkiller shots.
"I looked for that because there are plenty of people that come in and try to scam me, so I'm always looking for that," he testified.
While the doctor said "nothing implied" that Jackson was abusing painkillers, there was one incident during a house call in 2002 that caused him to suspect Jackson might be getting additional shots of the powerful opioid Demerol from another doctor. He noticed "a little blood spot" on Jackson's T-shirt after he gave him a shot, he said.
"I lifted it up and there's a little Band-Aid over it and I said, 'Michael,' I said, 'you have another doctor that gave you a shot.' I said, 'You realize what risk you put yourself and me at by doing that? Who came and gave you a shot?' 'Oh, no, I didn't -- it was not a shot.'" Van Valin said. "But it was. He was lying."