Skip to main content

Judge in Anna Nicole Smith drug trial questions case

By Alan Duke, CNN
Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend-lawyer, Howard K. Stern (center), and two of her doctors are on trial in Los Angeles.
Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend-lawyer, Howard K. Stern (center), and two of her doctors are on trial in Los Angeles.
  • Judge suggests the prosecution's case is falling short
  • California law says depending on drugs for pain is not an addiction
  • The actress' lawyer and 2 doctors are accused of providing drugs to an addict
  • Judge discovers the legislature changed the definition of addict

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- The judge in the drug trial of Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend-lawyer and two doctors raised questions Wednesday about the California law being used to prosecute them.

Judge Robert Perry said he did not realize until researching the law on Tuesday night that the California Legislature changed the definition of an addict after most of the incidents the three are accused of allegedly happened.

While Perry was not ready to decide how it might change the course of the trial, he suggested he would revisit the issue. "We'll keep going forward," Perry said.

Howard K. Stern and Drs. Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor are accused of a conspiracy to provide drugs to an addict and using false names on prescriptions for Smith.

The prosecution alleged both doctors gave the former Playboy model and reality TV star a steady flow of dangerous painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs while knowing she was a drug addict.

The charges cover the last three years of Smith's life, which ended in a Florida hotel room with her death caused by "acute combined drug intoxication" on February 8, 2007. The three are not charged in Smith's death.

On Tuesday, Perry suggested the prosecution had fallen short so far in proving the core of its case, including that Smith was a drug addict.

Perry began Wednesday's session by saying he had not realized revisions in the "Intractable Pain Act," which guides the use of controlled drugs for pain treatment, were made in September 2006.

"An addict meant something different from what it meant before September, 2006," after most of the conspiracy allegedly happened, he said.

The law was changed to specify that a patient who depended on drugs for pain treatment could not be considered an addict.

Defense attorney Ellyn Garafalo said before the law was changed, a doctor might have been prosecuted if he or she gave drugs to ease pain for a drug addict who broke an arm.

Perry read from the law, which included a statement that the California Legislature "recognizes that prescription drugs can play a critical role in treatment of pain. Undertreatment of pain is a continuing problem."

A prosecution witness, who had concluded from a review of medical records that Smith was an addict, acknowledged during testimony Wednesday that Kapoor may have actually "undermedicated" the actress when treating her for two fractured ribs in 2004.

The defense contends that Smith was in chronic pain, including from the rib injuries and later from childbirth and the death of her son.

The trial, which began on August 4 in Los Angeles Superior Court, is expected to last at least two more weeks.