Defense says defendant in Anna Nicole Smith drug case was only trying to help her friend

By Linda Deutsch, AP
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Defense says Smith case defendant tried to help

LOS ANGELES — A prosecutor in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case accused the model’s boyfriend and doctors of providing her with drugs to enhance their friendships, but a defense attorney countered Tuesday that it was not a crime for a doctor to prescribe medication for a friend in pain.

Lawyer Brad Brunon, who represents defendant Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, told jurors his client was accused in prosecution summations of giving Smith drugs to make her feel good.

“Isn’t that what a doctor is supposed to do?” Brunon asked in his closing argument. “Is there a charge that Dr. Eroshevich committed a crime because she prescribed to a friend? No. It’s not a crime.”

Brunon was the first of three defense lawyers who will address the jury after prosecutors spent nearly eight hours over two days presenting arguments and an elaborate digital slide show.

Prosecutors misled jurors by showing things such as a burnt spoon and lighter allegedly used to melt down medication, Brunon said, stressing the items were never found and were not in evidence.

“Don’t be mesmerized by the pretty colored pictures,” he advised jurors about what he called the best high-tech display money can buy.

Brunon, who spoke with few visual aids, was set to continue his argument Wednesday. Lawyers for defendants Howard K. Stern and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor were expected to follow.

Eroshevich, Stern and Kapoor have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to provide excessive prescription drugs to an addict and other charges. They are not charged in Smith’s 2007 accidental overdose death.

Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose concluded her remarks by portraying Smith as surrounded by a circle of enablers, including the defendants, who supplied her with drugs for years despite her obvious addiction.

Rose, who spoke to jurors for four hours, concluded by listing every drug prescribed to Smith during the last three years of her life.

She then asked the jury to convict the defendants of providing excessive drugs to an addict.

Defense lawyers have said their clients are caring people who were trying to rescue Smith from a life of pain.

Rose, however, said Stern took no action to help Smith withdraw from opiates and sedatives, while Kapoor and Eroshevich continued to prescribe painkillers for the former Playboy model despite signs she was addicted.

Rose reminded jurors that in the spring of 2006, Smith was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center while pregnant and trying to stop her use of Methadone and Xanax.

“She’s relied on these medications for so many years. She was in a place that could have helped her,” the prosecutor said. “But after five days, she says, I’m done. This is too hard.”

At that point, Rose said, “she goes back into the environment of enablers, people who don’t want her to get better.”

Rose said the defendants wanted to preserve their positions in Smith’s celebrity world.

In the final months of Smith’s life, when Eroshevich flew to the Bahamas with supplies of Methadone and other drugs, Rose said, “She becomes the most important person in (Smith’s) life. That’s important in determining the motivation.”

Another prosecutor said Smith’s ailments were a ruse to get drugs.

Witnesses, however, have said Smith suffered from chronic pain syndrome, seizures, migraines, spinal pain and fractured ribs, among other illnesses.

Superior Court Judge Robert Perry reminded jurors that someone who seeks drugs primarily to control pain is not an addict.

(This version CORRECTS Minor edit. Corrects that prosecutors listed drugs from last three years of Smith’s life instead of five years. Proceedings have ended for the day. This story is part of AP’s general news and entertainment services.)

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