An attorney for Britney Spears‘s father Jamie told jurors in a Los Angeles courtroom on Friday that the struggle to get control of the pop star during her breakdown beginning in 2007 became a “battle for life and death.”
In day two of the trial between Britney’s former confidante Sam Lutfi and her family, Jamie Spears’s attorney Leon Gladstone portrayed Britney’s parents as humble, working-class folks from Kentwood, La., who supported her Mouseketeer beginnings, grew overwhelmed by their daughter’s superstardom and who ultimately took extreme measures to save her life.
Lutfi, 38, is suing Britney, 30, for allegedly not paying him 15 percent of her earnings as her purported manager; Jamie Spears for alleged battery; and Lynne Spears for defaming him in her 2008 book, Through the Storm.
Gladstone said Britney’s parents saw her as “a ray of light, humble and nice,” but that began to change after her painful breakup with Justin Timberlake in 2002, leaving their daughter “depressed and angry” in her early 20s.
Things went from bad to worse, Gladstone said, citing Britney’s annulled 55-hour marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander, which he called the “beginning of behavior that became increasingly bizarre,” and her marriage to Kevin Federline in Oct. 2004, which he said was another “impulsive decision.”
Following Britney’s infamous head-shaving incident in Feb. 2007, Jamie confronted his daughter, Gladstone said, telling her, “You’re going to kill yourself or one of your kids,” and put her in rehab.
‘Leave Our Family Alone’
In Sept. 2007, Jamie allegedly began receiving bizarre phone calls from Lutfi, who first identified himself “as an agent of the government” who was there to help Britney, Gladstone said. Jamie allegedly asked Lutfi repeatedly to “leave our family alone; let us take care of our daughter.”
Jamie also received a message from someone warning that, “Sam will probably make [Britney] commit suicide,” Gladstone said. Reading the message to jurors, Gladstone continued: “I personally know Sam Lutfi, and he’s a master manipulator. He almost made my good friend … commit suicide.”
Gladstone also told jurors of Lutfi’s checkered past: That the L.A. native had been previously slapped with restraining orders from a neighbor as well as a roommate in 2004 and ’07, respectively, as well as being sued for fraud and harassment.
Lynne & Jamie Intervene
On Jan. 28, 2008, after Britney was first hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Jamie and Lynne confronted Lutfi at Britney’s Beverly Hills home.
“In full control of himself,” Gladstone says, “Jamie says, ‘Leave my daughter alone, get out of our lives,’ and touched him one time,” denying to jurors that it was a punch.
Stephen Rohde, an attorney for Lynne, read from her Feb. 2008 sworn declaration in which she described the events at Britney’s home that night.
“Sam told [Lynne’s friend] Jackie and me that he grinds up Britney’s pills, which were on the counter and included Risperdal and Seroquel,” Rohde read.
“He told us that he puts them in her food and that was the reason she had been quiet for the last three days. ”
Lutfi also demanded that Lynne do what he ordered, according to her statement. “I’m the one who spends 24/7 with your daughter,” Lutfi allegedly said. “I sleep in cars outside her house so she can’t leave.”
Lynne also stated in her declaration that Lutfi “told me that if he weren’t in the house to give Britney her medicine, she would kill herself. Then he said to me, ‘If you try to get rid of me, she’ll be dead and I’ll piss on her grave.'”
Three days later, Britney was forcibly hospitalized a second time at UCLA Medical Center, and Jamie’s legal control over his daughter was approved by a judge the following day.
No Legit Contract
Joel Boxer, an attorney representing Britney, also argued Friday that Lutfi was never legitimately hired as the singer’s manager, that there was neither a written or oral agreement between then, and that his control was “a product of undue influence” over her.
Lutfi “used her vulnerability to gain her trust and friendship, and he abused it,” Boxer told jurors.
Boxer added that while Lutfi was in Britney’s life, he created no new business deals for her and that any cash she generated during that time was due to contracts negotiated before Lutfi came on the scene.
An attorney for Lynne concluded the day’s opening statements by saying there was no way Lutfi was defamed by her book “because his reputation was at such a low point [in the tabloids] that nothing could reduce it further.”
Witnesses are expected to be called to the stand when the trial resumes Monday.