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Anna Nicole Smith's slurred intro of Kanye West hits court

  • Story Highlights
  • Video played at preliminary hearing on reality star Smith's death
  • 3 charged with conspiracy to prescribe, administer and dispense drugs
  • Howard Stern, Khristine Eroshevich, Sandeep Kapoor have pleaded not guilty
By Alan Duke
CNN
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Anna Nicole Smith's bizarre introduction of rapper Kanye West at the 2004 American Music Awards took center stage on the first day of a preliminary hearing for three people facing charges stemming from her death.

Anna Nicole Smith's death on February 8, 2007, was ruled to be from "acute combined drug intoxication."

Anna Nicole Smith's death on February 8, 2007, was ruled to be from "acute combined drug intoxication."

Prosecutors said they wanted Judge Robert Perry to see how the former Playboy model and reality TV star was affected by what they alleged was an illegal conspiracy to prescribe, administer and dispense controlled substances to an addict.

Howard K. Stern, Smith's lawyer and companion, and co-defendants Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor each entered not guilty pleas in Los Angeles County Superior Court in September.

The preliminary hearing, which lawyers said could last three weeks, is an opportunity for the defense to "lock in" the testimony of prosecution witnesses, one defense lawyer said. It is not expected to result in any charges being dropped, he said.

The lawyer for Stern, who faces 11 felony counts, said to prove a conspiracy, the prosecutor would have to show Stern knew it was illegal to use fake names to obtain narcotics for Smith, which he said was to protect her privacy.

"He has no reason to believe that there was anything improper in what was going on," defense lawyer Steve Sadow said. "He honestly believed that if the doctor said he could do it this way and, in fact, did it, then it was legitimate and lawful."

Smith's death in a Hollywood, Florida, hotel on February 8, 2007, was ruled to be from "acute combined drug intoxication," the Broward County, Florida, medical examiner said.

Smith's introduction of Kanye West -- projected on a courtroom screen -- was a brief respite from a mostly tedious hearing spent shuffling through prescription records.

"Like my body?" a slim and busty Smith asked as she showed off her tight-fitting gown.

Smith slurred much of her speech as she tried to read from a teleprompter.

"Make some noise for my boy, Kanye West," Smith finally yelled.

Sadow said the video should be viewed in the context of the medical problems Smith was suffering at the time.

"We all have bad days, and she suffered from seizures and she had medical problems," Sadow said. "So, if she's on medication for that, [it] would explain her activity."

Stern sat with his head in his hands at times while the government's lead investigator described what happened the day Smith died at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Danny Santiago, special agent for the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, said investigators found 12 types of prescription drugs, including dangerous opiates, in the hotel room. Seven of them were prescribed using Stern's name, although spelled "Stearn," he said.

Two of the drugs apparently were for treatment of "flu-like symptoms" Smith was suffering when she arrived at the hotel three days before her death, he said.

A hotel employee who saw Smith and Stern arrive told investigators she "wasn't her normal vivacious self," Santiago said.

Another hotel worker who had closely assisted Smith during several earlier stays said she was not allowed contact with Smith, which she said was "very unusual," Santiago testified.

The workers said they were told Smith was suffering from "flu-like symptoms."

The autopsy revealed Smith had a bacterial infection, Santiago said.

When Stern left the hotel on the morning of February 8 to shop for a new boat, he asked Tasma Brighthaupt, a registered nurse who is married to Smith's bodyguard, to watch over Smith, who he said was sleeping, the investigator said.

Brighthaupt sat next to the bed, surfing the Internet with a laptop and talking on her cell phone, believing Smith was sleeping, he said. Finally, Brigette Neben, described as a friend of Smith's, noticed her lips were turning blue and her skin was pale, he said.

When the nurse was unable to find a pulse, she called her husband, Maurice Brighthaupt. He then called the hotel desk, where an employee called for paramedics.

CPR efforts by the bodyguard and paramedics failed to revive Smith, who was then taken to Hollywood Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the investigator said.

A series of affidavits used by state investigators to obtain search warrants in their 2½-year investigation was unsealed last month, revealing many details, including an account of one witness who told investigators she saw Stern inject Smith with drugs.

Other affidavits included a medical expert's conclusion that Smith, whose real name was Vickie Lynn Marshall, was given drugs in "excessive amounts" and a pharmacist who said he had refused to fill a prescription for a long list of strong narcotics.

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