Liberace seemed childlike two weeks before he died and was so ill he could barely speak and couldn't put on his glasses or read, let alone approve of changes in his will, said the nurse who cared for him.

The flamboyant entertainer, who died Feb. 5, 1987, of AIDS-related complications, was a gaunt man who used what little energy he had left to smile at friends when they came to see him, Norma Gerber testified Wednesday.

"It was just the disease, it knocked everything out of him," said the nurse, who began caring for Liberace 13 days before his death and the day he named attorney Joel Strote as his executor.

"We would have minature conversations but he could only speak in syllables," she said. "The motor coordination was going so he'd have difficulty speaking."

Her testimony contradicted that of Strote, who said the famed pianist sat at a table in his Palm Strings, Calif., home that day, talking with him and going over the estate papers before signing them.