Judge dismisses 2 charges in Anna Nicole drug trial

Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:04pm EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday dismissed two charges against Howard K. Stern, the former lawyer and boyfriend of Anna Nicole Smith, in a trial over whether he and two doctors wrongly supplied prescription drugs to the model and TV actress.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry threw out a charge against Stern of obtaining drugs for Smith by fraud and deceit, and he dismissed part of one conspiracy claim against Stern and Smith's doctor, Sandeep Kapoor, saying there was not enough proof the two men had worked together to obtain drugs.

But the remainder of the 11 complaints against Stern, Kapoor and a second doctor, Khristine Eroschevich, will stand.

All three have pleaded not guilty in the trial, which began in early August. Attorneys are set to begin closing arguments on Monday after two days of hearings over whether the case should be dismissed for lack of evidence.

Smith died of an accidental drug overdose in February 2007 in Florida, and California prosecutors have charged Stern and the two doctors with conspiring to give drugs to a known addict. They are not charged directly with her death.

Earlier this week, Judge Perry criticized the prosecution's aggressive pursuit of case, likening it to a "kitchen-sink prosecution" in which numerous claims were put forward "against these defendants in the hope that something survives."

The judge said many of the charges should have been low-level misdemeanors as opposed to the felonies that were charged, which carry greater penalties.

(Editing by Todd Eastham)