- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 4, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A choreographer who worked with Michael Jackson on his ill-fated concert tour told a judge Tuesday he clashed with Jackson’s doctor and others over the superstar’s health six days before he died.

Kenny Ortega, who was the last person to work with Jackson, testified that he was summoned to Jackson’s home a day after letting the superstar skip rehearsal because he seemed sick.

Dr. Conrad Murray and others suggested Jackson should not have been sent home because he was physically and emotionally fine, Ortega testified, adding he was told not to try to be Jackson’s doctor or psychiatrist.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing to determine if Murray, the singer’s personal physician, will be tried on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Authorities contend Murray gave Jackson a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion before he died on June 25, 2009.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren said in his opening statement that Jackson was already dead when Murray summoned help and tried to conceal his administering of propofol to the pop star, ordering a bodyguard to collect items before paramedics were called.

Later in the hearing, Ortega testified that Jackson had gone home early from rehearsals on June 19.

“He didn’t look well at all,” Ortega testified. “Michael was chilled and soft-spoken. … He wasn’t in the kind of condition to be at rehearsal.”

Ortega also said Jackson appeared lost.

“It was scary. I couldn’t put my finger on it,” Ortega said. “I said, ‘Michael, is this the best place for you to be or do you want to go home and be with your family?’ He said, ‘Would you be OK with that?’ I said, ‘OK,’ and he left.”

The next morning, Ortega said, he was called to Jackson’s home, where he was confronted by Murray, Jackson, the star’s manager Frank DiLeo, and Randy Phillips, head of AEG, the company producing Jackson’s “This is It” comeback tour.

“It quickly became clear that the meeting was about me,” Ortega said. “Dr. Murray was upset that I had sent Michael home the night before and didn’t allow him to rehearse.”

Ortega said he replied that, “In my opinion, Michael was not healthy enough to be on stage, and it could endanger him. I said it was Michael’s choice” to go home.

The choreographer went on to say there were no problems at further rehearsals, and the two sessions that preceded Jackson’s death were “fabulous.”

On June 23, he said, “It was like the Michael we all knew … He was in a delightful mood and we had a great day.”

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