October 9, 2010 / 1:55 AM / in 8 years

Jury gets case in Anna Nicole Smith drug trial

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The trial of three people charged with keeping former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith loaded up on painkillers went to the jury on Friday after two months of testimony.

Prosecutors ended final arguments, allowing the judge to hand the case to the 12-member jury that will decide whether Smith’s companion, Howard K. Stern, and her two doctors, Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor, are sent to prison.

Jury deliberations will begin on Tuesday.

Smith, the fashion model and TV actress who was famous for marrying an 89-year-old billionaire, died in Florida in 2007 at age 39 from an accidental prescription drug overdose.

Stern and the doctors are not charged in her death but with unlawfully providing drugs and controlled substances to a known addict. If convicted, they could be sentenced to more than five years in prison.

All three have pleaded not guilty, and defense attorneys have offered several arguments, including that the case might never have gone to trial had Smith not been a Hollywood star.

Defense lawyers have said their clients cared for Smith and would not harm her. They add that the prosecution wants to paint her as an out-of-control drug addict when, they say, she used drugs to help her sleep and control severe pain.

Prosecutors said the defendants conspired to get Smith anti-depressants, muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety drugs by using false names and other means when they knew Smith had a history of drug problems. Smith was first treated for addiction in 1996, they said.

Judge Robert Perry last week threw out some of the charges against the defendants and criticized the prosecution for being overly aggressive.

Editing by Peter Cooney

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