LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A lawyer for the ex-boyfriend of Anna Nicole Smith lashed out at prosecutors on Thursday for calling her “an out-of-control drug addict,” as the trial of three people charged with keeping the former Playboy model loaded up on painkillers neared its end.
Steve Sadow told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury in closing arguments that Howard K. Stern loved her and prosecutors had trivialized the chronic pain she suffered for more seven years.
“He (Stern) lived with it for years. It’s time for someone to stand up and say it ain’t right,” Sadow said, arguing that Stern had relied on the advice of Smith’s doctors regarding prescription drugs.
Smith, the fashion model and actress famous for marrying an 89-year-old oil billionaire, died in Florida in 2007 at age 39 from an accidental prescription drug overdose.
Her companion and lawyer Stern, along with two doctors, are not charged with causing her death but with unlawfully prescribing and giving controlled substances to a known addict for three years.
Stern and doctors Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor have pleaded not guilty. They could face more than five years in prison if convicted.
Judge Robert Perry last week threw out two of the charges and criticized prosecutors for being overly aggressive in pursuing the case, which is expected to go to the jury on Friday.
Defense lawyers have disputed prosecutor David Barkhurst’s contention that the doctors used their prescription pads to “feed the addiction from which Smith suffered.”
On several occasions, the celebrity had sleep aids, anti-depressants, muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety drugs flown to her in the Bahamas, prosecutors have said.
Kapoor’s attorney argued the case would never have been brought against her client if Smith had not been a celebrity.
Eroshevich’s lawyer said she had been publicly humiliated after reaching out in an “emergency mission” to help Smith, her neighbor, after the 2006 death of Smith’s 20-year-old son.
Prosecutors have said that Smith was first treated in 1996 for addiction to painkillers and alcohol, and another attempt was made to wean her off prescription drugs in 2006 when she was pregnant with her second child.
But Kapoor later put Smith back into “an addictive spiral” by resuming prescriptions for the same drugs, the prosecution has claimed.
Stern, Kapoor and Eroshevich were charged after a criminal investigation was ordered by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, in a bid to tackle state-wide prescription drug abuse.
Officials working for Brown, who is campaigning to become California governor, also helped investigate the 2009 death of Michael Jackson, which led to involuntary manslaughter charges against the singer’s personal physician.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Xavier Briand