LOS ANGELES (AP) - With a jury ready to hear evidence, lawyers in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case were scheduled to launch their cases Wednesday with opening statements.
Prosecutors were expected to accuse three key figures in the Playboy model’s life of illegally giving her massive amounts of opiates and sedatives in the years before she died.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry has stressed that the defendants have not been charged with causing Smith’s death. He told jurors that they must not confuse this trial with the issues in the case of Michael Jackson’s doctor who is charged with involuntary manslaughter.
“What we are trying is a legality of prescribing medication case,” he said.
Perry presided over a three-week preliminary hearing last year in which prosecutors delved deeply into Smith’s troubled life and painted Dr. Sanjeep Kapoor, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Smith’s lawyer-boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, as conspirators who fed the celebrity’s desire for prescription drugs.
All three pleaded not guilty and their lawyers have suggested they were desperately trying to save the doomed model during a period when she gave birth to a daughter and lost her grown son to a drug overdose.
After hearing 17 witnesses in the preliminary hearing, Perry concluded that the trio of defendants cared deeply for Smith but said there was sufficient evidence to support convictions if a jury should find them guilty. If convicted they could face more than five years in prison and the doctors would lose their medical licenses.
Defense attorneys, who presented no witnesses in the preliminary hearing, had said they were holding back their evidence for trial. Opening statements will provide the first look at their case.
Smith died of what was ruled an accidental overdose of at least nine medications in February 2007 at a Florida hotel. She had been living in the Bahamas and was allegedly receiving deliveries of prescription medications from her Los Angeles-based doctors.
“Criminalizing a doctor’s efforts to help a difficult patient is problematic,” she said. “A doctor’s even poor judgment is not criminal. Good faith is involved. “
Eroshevich’s lawyers maintain she was a friend before she was Smith’s psychiatrist. Prosecutors contend that both she and Kapoor stepped over the line that divides professional and personal relationships.View Entire Story
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
How does our 50th state view D.C. politics?
Life lessons, adventures, people places and observations as I undertake my personal quest to travel to 100 or more countries before I die.
Finding radiant smiles and dental health with Dr. Ali Forghani
Contributions to the Communities Sports desk from readers.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall