Prosecution in Anna Nicole Smith Case: She Had an Addiction Problem

Closing arguments begin in conspiracy case

Monday, Oct 4, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 PM EDT
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In this Oct. 2, 2000 file photo, Anna Nicole Smith, right, smiles as she walks to the courthouse with her attorney Howard K. Stern in Houston. Attorneys in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy trial are set with final arguments aimed at swaying jurors in reaching a complicated and crucial set of verdicts that will affect two doctors and the deceased model's former boyfriend.

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A prosecutor portrayed Anna Nicole Smith Monday as an out-of-control drug addict who pressured doctors into prescribing pain killers and sedatives.

Deputy District Attorney David Barkhurst was the first lawyer to deliver his closing argument to jurors after eight weeks of testimony. His initial emphasis was on addiction, a central dispute between the prosecution and defense.

Superior Court Judge Robert Perry has told jurors a person who seeks drugs primarily to control pain is not an addict.

But Barkhurst suggested Smith's complaints of pain were an excuse to get drugs.

"Anna Nicole Smith had an addiction problem," he said.

Howard K. Stern and Drs. Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to provide excessive prescription drugs to the former Playboy model while knowing she was an addict.

They are not charged in her 2007 accidental overdose death in Florida.

Barkhurst focused his initial remarks on Kapoor, an internist whom the prosecutor accused of doing inadequate tests before giving Smith the heavy duty opiate Dilaudid that she requested.

"The issue in this case is whether the doctors were acting in good faith," Barkhurst said. "They were no longer treating her pain. They were feeding her addiction."

The argument appeared to cast Smith as a coconspirator, even though she has not been officially given that designation by prosecutors.

Barkhurst conceded that Kapoor once treated Smith for painful cracked ribs. But the drugs were given for too long a period, he said.

"She's seeking the medication she enjoys to make her feel good," the prosecutor said.

There was no testimony that Smith ever sought euphoria from prescription drugs. The defense maintains she suffered from chronic pain and a number of ailments that sent her to doctors in search of relief.

Another prosecutor and three defense attorneys were expected to offer closing arguments before the case goes to the jury.

Defense attorneys Steve Sadow for Stern, Brad Brunon for Eroshevich and Ellyn Garafalo for Kapoor were expected to argue for acquittal, claiming the defendants cared deeply for Smith and were trying to help her with legitimate medical concerns.

Earlier, the judge dismissed two charges against Stern of obtaining drugs for her by fraud and deceit, including use of false names. He also dismissed part of a conspiracy count against Stern and Kapoor, ruling there was insufficient proof the two men conspired to obtain controlled drugs through fraud and deceit.

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