A week after he first took the stand to recount his son's death, John Travolta was back testifying in the Bahamas this morning.
This time around, rather than focusing on the emotional morning he discovered 16-year-old son Jett unconscious, Travolta talked the specifics of the purported plot targeting him and wife Kelly Preston.
The star said that once he was tipped off by one of his employees, Ronald Zupancic, that former senator Pleasant Bridgewater and ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne were trying to extort $25 million from his mourning family, he immediately consulted with his lawyer, Michael McDermott.
While he was never directly approached by Bridgewater or Lightbourne, Travolta said he learned that unless he handed over hush money, the duo threatened to go public with information "imply[ing] that the death of my son was intentional and I was culpable in some way."
"[Zupancic] was upset. He said that there was a threat and a demand of money that Mr. McDermott, my attorney, had alerted him to with a release paper that I had signed in the Bahamas.
"I spoke to my attorney, and he needed to investigate the matter. I gave him permission to go to the authorities based on the information he gave me."
Yesterday, another of Travolta's attorneys, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, took the stand, claiming Bridgewater approached her in the days after Jett's death with copies of documents—ambulance dispatch reports and the now infamous refusal to transport form—which somehow may have been used to suggest negligence on Travolta's behalf.
"If [the demands] were not met, then certain stories connected to that document would be sold to the press," Travolta said today.
Maynard-Gibson said the defendant duo expected the star to pay for the documents as "he would not want his name tarnished in [the] media."
Specifically, she said the papers—which, Lightbourne told her, "could belong to Travolta or it could belong to the world"—would show Travolta initially wanted his son flown to a Florida hospital rather than be taken to a local facility. She said the driver had been in contact with "a lady from the U.S. media who said it might be beneficial to him if he could show that Travolta was negligent."
During his testimony last week, Travolta confirmed that he signed a document releasing the ambulance company from liability in his son's care but that, given the circumstances, he didn't exactly go over it with a fine-tooth comb.
"I received a liability of release document," he said. "I signed it. I did not read it. Time was of the essence."
(Originally published on Sept. 30, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. PT)
Catch up on the Travoltas' hard-fought journey.