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Closing arguments begin in Anna Nicole Smith trial

By Alan Duke, CNN
The judge in the  Anna Nicole Smith trial has been highly critical of the prosecution's case.
The judge in the Anna Nicole Smith trial has been highly critical of the prosecution's case.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Prosecution argues Smith's doctors fed her drug addiction
  • The judge has been critical of the prosecution case
  • Two counts against Smith's lawyer-boyfriend were tossed

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- The prosecution in the trial of Anna Nicole Smith's manager-boyfriend Howard K. Stern and two doctors portrayed the actress as an addict who had no control over her drugs in closing arguments that began Monday.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Barkhurst used two Norman Rockwell portraits to show jurors "What doctors should do," while painting Drs. Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor as physicians who fed Smith's addiction instead of treating her illnesses.

Doctors have a responsibility to protect patients "even from themselves," Barkhurst said.

Stern and the doctors are accused of conspiring to feed the reality TV star and Playboy model's drug addiction and using false names to obtain the drugs.

The defendants are not charged in Smith's February 2007 death, which a Florida medical examiner ruled was from an accidental overdose of a sleep aid, a lethal mix of prescription drugs and a viral flu.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry has been highly critical of the prosecution's case, suggesting it was built from "a dead celebrity and a bunch of low-level misdemeanors."

Perry said he decided to allow the case to go forward after another respected judge advised him to trust the jury system.

The judge has questioned whether the prosecution has proved that Smith was an addict, as defined by California law, and not just dependent on drugs to relieve chronic pain.

"If she's being treated for pain, it's not illegal," Perry said last week.

Barkhurst, the first of two prosecutors to deliver closing arguments, said that at some point during the last three years of Smith's life, Eroshevich and Kapoor were no longer treating Smith's pain, "but were prescribing to treat her addiction."

"There is not a single physical test done on Anna Nicole Smith during the time Dr. Kapoor is treating her," Barkhurst said.

Eroshevich kept no medical records of her care for Smith, but simply used her "prescription pad power" to provide controlled drugs to her.

Video: Stern charges dropped
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Both doctors crossed ethical lines by developing personal friendships with Smith, Barkhurst told jurors.

"A doctor can't be both a physician and a friend," Barkhurst said.

He reminded jurors of photos shown earlier of Eroshevich naked with Smith in a hot tub at her Bahamas home months before her death.

"She is writing prescriptions to keep Anna Nicole euphoric, not to treat a medical condition," the prosecutor said.

He read entries from Kapoor's personal diary written after he and Smith attended a gay pride event.

"I was making out with Anna, my patient, blurring the lines," Kapoor's diary said.

Another diary entry was evidence Kapoor knew his prescriptions for Smith were illegal, Barkhurst said. "I give her methadone, valium. Can she ruin me?"

Evidence that Smith was an addict dates back to 1996, when she voluntarily entered the Betty Ford Clinic, he argued.

Kapoor should have recognized that Smith was an addict when she first came to his office in April 2004 and asked for one of the most powerful painkillers available, Barkhurst said.

"Anna Nicole Smith liked Dilaudid," he said. "She asked for what she liked."

Kapoor gave her another prescription for Dilaudid six weeks later when Smith complained of pain from two ribs broken in a May 27, 2004, Jet Ski accident.

"If she was on Dilaudid at the time she cracked her ribs, certainly she shouldn't be on a Jet Ski," Barkhurst said.

Kapoor ordered no X-rays or tests and did not take time to call another doctor who treated her the day of the accident, he said.

Smith got Dilaudid from four different doctors that month, he said.

A doctor who treated Smith at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in June 2006 testified that she concluded Smith was addicted to drugs, Barkhurst told jurors. When Dr. Natalie Maullin asked Kapoor then if Smith had any addiction issues, Kapoor laughed and said there have been some issues, Barkhurst said.

Closing arguments are expected to last through Wednesday.

Two charges against Stern were thrown out by Perry, who questioned the evidence that Stern, a lawyer, knew it was illegal to get drugs in multiple names.

"It has all the hallmarks of a kitchen sink prosecution," Perry said last week. "It looks like the prosecution is throwing everything in with the hope that something will survive."

Perry hinted that if the defendants are found guilty, he would consider "possible selective prosecution issues" when sentencing them.

During the two-month-long trial, prosecutors showed a 13-minute video of Smith bathing with her infant daughter months before her death to support their argument that Smith's speech was slurred and her mind was groggy from drugs.

Jurors were not allowed to see the bizarre video, which shows Smith talking in a childlike manner during a birthday party for a 9-year-old girl.

The defense does not deny Smith took a lot of drugs, but it says the doctors were treating her for chronic pain that other doctors had also diagnosed.

The prosecution's case was hampered by several key witnesses recanting details of earlier statements, including a former nanny who said she never saw Stern injecting Smith with a needle.

In Session Correspondent Jean Casarez contributed to this report.

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