LOS ANGELES - 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 told a jury Friday.
Charles Czeisler, a Harvard professor and sleep researcher, said reports by workers on Jackson's ill-fated comeback concerts that the entertainer was losing weight and exhibiting signs of paranoia and that his condition seemed to be deteriorating were consistent with someone who hadn't gotten any real sleep in a long time.
The sleep deprivation was likely caused by Jackson's use of the anesthetic propofol, which Czeisler said would put the singer in a drug-induced coma and not meet his body's need for actual sleep. Studies showed that similar levels of sleep deprivation resulted in the deaths of laboratory animals and would likely cause the death of a human, he said.
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," Czeisler said.
Czeisler is testifying in a lawsuit filed by the singer's mother against concert promoter AEG Live LLC.
On cross-examination by AEG defense attorney Kathryn Cahan, the researcher acknowledged that he hadn't 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 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 the lawsuit's eight-week trial.
Czeisler is a Harvard-educated sleep expert who has consulted on sleep issues for sports teams, the Rolling Stones, ex-NBA player Shaquille O'Neal and government agencies such as the CIA and U.S. Marshals Service.
"The meticulous detailing of his deterioration here was both profound and sad."
Charles Czeisler, Harvard professor and sleep researcher