Prosecutor: Anna Nicole's psychiatrist prescribed, delivered large quantities of narcotics to Bahamas, kept no records
August 5, 2010
Two doctors and Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend conspired for three years, even crossing international borders, to "funnel" massive amounts of powerful, highly dangerous medication to the late model, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday during opening statements in their criminal trial.
Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Renee Rose said the defendants' efforts included using fake names and different pharmacies, including one specializing in supplying large quantities to nursing homes and board-and-care facilities.
The Los Angeles trial of Smith's primary physician Sandeep Kapoor, psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich, and Smith's partner and lawyer Howard K. Stern comes more than three years after Smith's 2007 death in Hollywood, Fla. They are accused of illegally providing the former Playboy playmate with excessive quantities of prescription medication.
Attorneys for the defendants countered the prosecution's picture of them as reckless enablers, arguing that they cared deeply for Smith and were trying to assuage a pained, broken life.
Despite Smith's highly publicized accidental overdose, Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry cautioned the attorneys that the model's death was not relevant to the charges. "I have grave concern that the jury is going to focus on the fact that Ms. Smith died," Perry said outside the panel's presence.
Rose contended that the defendants each knew that Smith's history of addiction went as far back as 1996. Stern and Kapoor even conspired to "circumvent" the detoxification treatment Smith was placed on when she was pregnant with her daughter, Rose said.
Eroshevich, Smith's next-door neighbor in Studio City who eventually became a close friend, repeatedly prescribed Smith large quantities of pain medication and delivered them herself to the Bahamas, but there are no records that she examined the model, the prosecutor said.
"We trust our doctors with the most precious thing we have, which is our health," Rose said. "When you see all the evidence in this case, you will see that trust was violated, that responsibility, promise broken ... and none of it could have happened without Mr. Stern."
Defense attorneys argued that their clients acted in Smith's best interests and that, even if their medical decisions were less than perfect, they couldn't be held criminally responsible through hindsight. Smith suffered from serious chronic pain that doctors were unable to accurately diagnose, they said.
Ellyn Garofalo, Kapoor's attorney, said the doctor was vigilant about managing Smith's medication and the drugs had a legitimate medical purpose — to help Smith live with the pain. Attorney Bradley Brunon said Eroshevich was simply helping Smith out when she said she couldn't get in touch with her doctor.
"Does caring about someone, your neighbor, make you a criminal? I don't think so," Brunon said.
Stern's attorney told jurors his client simply trusted and relied on the doctors, saying that Smith was strong-willed and made her own choices about how to deal with her pain.
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