Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case against lawyer-boyfriend, 2 doctors goes to jury

By Linda Deutsch, AP
Friday, October 8, 2010

Anna Nicole drug conspiracy case goes to jury

LOS ANGELES — The Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case, charging her lawyer-boyfriend and two doctors with providing the former Playboy model with excessive amounts of drugs, was placed in the hands of a jury Friday.

In a full week of final arguments, opposing lawyers battled over whether the defendants loved Smith and tried to relieve her pain or fed her addiction to medications to curry favor with a celebrity.

Attorney Steve Sadow, the last defense lawyer to speak, said Smith was the love of Howard K. Stern’s life and he trusted the two doctors on trial with him to ease her suffering with prescription drugs.

Witnesses testified during the trial that Smith had chronic pain syndrome and other ailments.

Sadow, who represents Stern, said his client was not qualified to second-guess the doctors who were acting in good faith prescribing drugs for Smith’s physical and emotional pain after the birth of her daughter and death of her son.

Jurors were told to select a foreperson then sent home until Tuesday when they will begin deliberations. Monday is a court holiday.

After nine weeks of testimony and arguments, the last word to jurors came from a prosecutor who implored them to convict the defendants on all counts.

Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose said the three defendants committed fraud by using false names for Smith on prescriptions and contended the thousands of doses of opiates, sedatives and other pills were prescribed to cater to an addiction.

Stern was complicit in picking up prescriptions on many occasions, the prosecutor said.

Superior Court Judge Robert Perry reminded jurors that the numbers of pills prescribed do not legally prove addiction.

The case is being closely watched by pain management doctors and patients. The judge has remarked there is some concern about doctors under-prescribing pain medication to suffering patients because of legal worries.

Rose and Perry, who had disagreements throughout the trial, clashed again during her rebuttal argument when the judge said she was misleading the jury about some of the evidence. He threatened at one point to let the defense have another chance at argument if the behavior continued.

“My concern is I have a prosecutor who is misrepresenting what was said,” the judge said.

Rose apologized and said she never meant to misstate anything. Perry told the jury to disregard a section of her argument that may have contained false implications.

In the balance of her argument, Rose claimed the defendants were drawn into Smith’s world of celebrity and broke the law in treating her.

“In the real world, your doctor doesn’t fly to you in the Bahamas if you’re sick and then fly back.” Rose said. “It happens in Anna Nicole Smith’s world.”

Sadow stressed that he was speaking for Stern. But in denying his client was part of a conspiracy, Sadow advocated for all three defendants. Their lawyers spoke earlier.

Stern is charged as an aider and abettor to the doctors’ actions. Sadow said that to be convicted, “Howard has to know when a prescription is written that the doctor intended to break the law.”

He said there has been no testimony to support that claim.

Stern and Drs. Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich 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 in Florida.

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