Anna Nicole Smith's doctors, boyfriend ordered to stand trial in drug case [Updated]
A judge today ordered two of Anna Nicole Smith physicians and her onetime boyfriend to stand trial on charges of conspiring to illegally furnish the 39-year-old with prescription medications.
Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry said the legal standard for the defendant to face trial was “very minimal.”
“I do find the people have met the task of convincing this court there is strong suspicion that the defendants committed the act.… I do find the proof is sufficient to bind them over for trial,” Perry said in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Arraignment has been set for Dec. 11 and will be overseen by another judge. [Updated at 2:30 p.m.: A previous version of this post said trial was set for Dec. 11.]
During court proceedings that began Oct. 13, it was revealed that Smith spent the last days of her life drifting in and out of consciousness under the pale blue comforter of a king-sized hotel bed, too weak to walk, sit up or drink from anything other than a baby bottle.
The supermodel died in 2007 from an overdose of a sedative and other drugs at a hospital in Hollywood, Fla., near the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, where she had been staying. A medical examiner ruled her death an accident.
But a multi-agency task force spent two years investigating how she obtained opiates, sedatives and other drugs -- 44 different medications -- before her death.
Prosecutors ultimately charged two Los Angeles doctors who wrote her prescriptions, Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor, and her longtime companion and attorney, Howard K. Stern, with offenses that include prescribing controlled substances to an addict and obtaining prescriptions under a false name. All three have pleaded not guilty.
During testimony earlier this month, Special Agent Danny Santiago of the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement summarized an investigation that stretched from pharmacies in the San Fernando Valley to the casino hotel lobby in Florida. When Smith arrived at the reception desk Feb. 5, 2007, accompanied by Stern and Eroshevich, a psychiatrist, there were already signs that Smith was ill, Santiago testified.
The hotel employee who greeted the group recalled Smith, a repeat customer, leaning on Stern to walk and seeming "out of it."
"He just stated she wasn't her normal vivacious self," Santiago testified that the employee told him.
Many of the dozen pill bottles found in the hotel suite where Smith died were prescribed by Eroshevich and were filled the month before at a Studio City pharmacy in the names of aliases, Santiago said. Eroshevich was Smith's next-door neighbor when the model lived in Studio City and had traveled to be with Smith in the Bahamas after the death of her son, Daniel, the detective testified.
-- Harriet Ryan
Photo: Howard K. Stern and Anna Nicole Smith at a celebrity event. Credit: WireImage
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