Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer and former boyfriend Howard K. Stern and two of her doctors pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that they helped give thousands of prescription drugs to the former Playboy Playmate in the years leading up to her fatal drug overdose in 2007.
Stern, 40, Kristine Eroshevich, 61, and another doctor, Sandeep Kapoor, 40, each face six counts including conspiracy.
The commissioner granted a motion requiring each defendant to provide a handwriting sample and she scheduled a June 8 court date to determine when a preliminary hearing in the case will begin.
Each defendant faces up to five years, eight months in prison if convicted.
The three defendants were each charged March 12 with three felony counts of conspiracy and several other charges of fraudulent prescriptions last month. Prosecutors said the doctors gave the drugs — including opiates and benzodiazepines — to Stern, who then gave them to Smith.
Their arraignment was previously postponded from April 7, by Superior Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau.
California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown has called Stern Smith's "principal enabler" adding that "[Smith] took the drugs almost to the point of stupefication."
But at a press conference following court proceedings Wednesday, Stern's attorney Steve Sadow reaffirmed his belief in his client's innocence.
"[Stern] didn't commit a crime, period," Sadow told reporters. "Every one of the people in this case contends that there was no crime, because in fact, there was no crime."
Sadow said he had filed a demurrer, a legal document contending that the law under which Stern is charged does not apply to him.
"The statute deals with medical practitioners," he said. "He is not a doctor."
Sadow previously said that Smith's prescriptions were legitimate, she was not a drug addict and that she was in control of her own life.
Kapoor's lawyer, Ellyn Garafalo, said he continues to practice medicine and his patients have been supportive.
"We have no doubt Dr. Kapoor will be exonerated," she said.
The prescriptions for Smith were issued between June 2004 and January 2007, just two weeks before Smith's death. The attorney general's office has been pursuing its case since shortly after she died.
"It has taken so long because there have been hundreds of interviews, and tens of thousands of computer records that were looked at in California and abroad," Brown said when the charges were handed down.
In an earlier statement, Brown stated that, "these individuals repeatedly and excessively furnished thousands of prescription pills to Anna Nicole Smith, often for no legitimate medical purpose."
The medical examiner's office has said Eroshevich, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and friend of the starlet's, authorized all the prescription medications found in the Hollywood, Fla., hotel room where the 39-year-old Smith was found unresponsive shortly before her death in February 2007. Eroshevich had traveled with Smith to Florida.
Eroshevich's attorney, Adam Braun, acknowledged his client wrote some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith, but said that the intent wasn't to commit fraud.
"It was done for privacy reasons," Braun told the AP. "She did the best she could under difficult circumstances in the best interest of the patient."
Braun said Eroshevich began treating Smith following the death of the playmate's son in September 2006. The doctor traveled on several occasions over a six-month period to the Bahamas where Smith was living with Stern and wrote the prescriptions.
The criminal complaint also alleges Kapoor wrote prescriptions for Smith under a patient alias Michelle Chase. Prosecutors allege the doctor gave her excessive amounts of sleep aids, opiates, muscle relaxants and methadone-like drugs used to treat addiction, knowing she was an addict.
Brown said Eroshevich and Kapoor "violated their ethical obligations as physicians, while Mr. Stern funneled highly addictive drugs to Ms. Smith."
The criminal complaint includes eight other felony charges, including obtaining fraudulent prescriptions and unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance. In all, Stern faces six felonies and the doctors each are charged with seven.
Rumors swirled for weeks after Smith's death, but police cleared those around Smith of any wrongdoing and the medical examiner's probe deemed it an accidental overdose.
Because the playmate was found unresponsive in a hotel on American Indian land, the case was handled by tribal police and their exemption from public records laws kept most of the investigation from being made public.
Eleven prescription medications were found in Smith's hotel room the day she died, according to the medical examiner's office. More than 600 pills — including about 450 muscle relaxants — were missing from prescriptions that were no more than five weeks old when she died. Most of the drugs were prescribed in the name of Stern, her lawyer-turned-companion, and none was prescribed in Smith's own name.
Ultimately, it was a syrup — the powerful sleeping aid chloral hydrate — blamed with tipping the balance in the toxic mix of drugs and causing her death.
Stern, who initially claimed he was the father of Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn, appeared distraught as he spoke last year at a memorial marking the one-year anniversary of Smith's death.
"Few people who knew Anna might not realize how smart she actually was because unless she wanted you to know you didn't know," Stern said.
Stern, who came to the Bahamas with Smith during her pregnancy in 2006, gave up custody of Dannielynn in spring 2007 after DNA tests proved Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead was the father.
Dannielynn has been named the sole heir of her late mother's estate, with Birkhead and Stern as co-trustees. Dannielynn could inherit millions of dollars if the estate wins an ongoing court fight over the oil fortune of Anna Nicole's late second husband, J. Howard Marshall.
Several agencies participated in the investigation, including the attorney general's office, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Medical Board and the state Department of Insurance.
Other than small roles in movies like Naked Gun 33 1/3 and The Hudsucker Proxy, Smith appeared mostly in soft-core porn movies. From 2002 to 2004, E! Entertainment gave Smith her own reality show called The Anna Nicole Show.
The model's figure and up-and-down weight were also subjects of public fascination. But she lost a reported 69 pounds and became a spokeswoman for TrimSpa.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.