Published August 06, 2010
LOS ANGELES – Anna Nicole Smith was "obsessed" with pills and was assisted in taking drugs by her lawyer-boyfriend in the weeks before her death, the celebrity model's bodyguard testified Friday.
Maurice Brighthaupt depicted a chaotic situation at the home where Smith was staying in the Bahamas after the birth of her daughter and the death of her son, Daniel, from a drug overdose.
Brighthaupt said he saw defendant Howard K. Stern holding Smith's head and giving her pills when she was too weak to take them on her own.
Meanwhile, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, another defendant who was Smith's psychiatrist, was trying to hide medications from Smith after shipping the drugs to the model from Los Angeles, he said.
Brighthaupt identified shipping receipts and said Eroshevich sent Chloral Hydrate, a powerful sleep medicine, which Smith gulped from the bottle. It was named in her autopsy as one of the nine drugs on which she eventually overdosed.
"She was demanding them like an addict," Brighthaupt said, but the comment was stricken by the judge because an issue in the case is whether Smith was addicted or merely dependent on drugs to ease pain.
In one confrontation with Smith, Eroshevich "started crying and threatening to leave if she mixed alcohol and prescription drugs," Brighthaupt said.
"And what was Mr. Stern saying?" Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose asked.
"Oh, he said she can handle it. Anna can handle it," the bodyguard recalled.
Across the courtroom, Stern shook his head and appeared incredulous.
Stern and Eroshevich have pleaded not guilty along with Dr. Sandeep Kapoor to conspiring to supply the Playboy model and reality TV star with massive amounts of opiates and sleep medications. They are not charged with causing her 2007 overdose death in a Hollywood, Fla., hotel room.
On cross-examination by Stern's lawyer, Steve Sadow, Brighthaupt said Stern loved and cared for Smith.
"I don't think he forced drugs on her. From what I know, it was her time to take medicine and he gave her medicine," Brighthaupt said. "I believe Anna made her own decisions."
Brighthaupt, who said he is 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, said he wishes he had taken drugs away from Smith. "I think about that every day."
He acknowledged selling pictures and interviews to cable TV for more than $100,000 after Smith's death. But most of what he said on the shows were lies, including his claim that he never saw Methadone, a powerful pain killer, in her home, Brighthaupt said. She was taking it in huge doses.
"I thought as someone who had protected her in life, I should try to save what reputation she had left," he said. "She was like a sister to me."
Brighthaupt said his lying is over now.
"I knew there would come a time when I had to be truthful," he said. "I came clean."
Asked about Stern's reaction to a suggestion that Smith needed treatment, Brighthaupt said: "He explained she was in rehab before and that it almost killed her and she vowed not to go into rehab again."
As Smith drifted further into a drug haze, she once fell off a raft in the middle of the swimming pool and sank to the bottom before Brighthaupt rescued her, he testified.
Brighthaupt, who was one of the last people to see Smith alive, testified that both Eroshevich and Stern injected Smith with substances, but he didn't know if she was given B-12 shots or drugs.
Smith took "a bag of meds" with her and would take 20 pills at a time, including Valium, from a dish she kept at her bedside, Brighthaupt testified, and her obsession with the drugs increased after her son's death.
"She was a hurt lady," he said.
Brighthaupt, a Miami firefighter and paramedic, unsuccessfully tried to revive Smith, 39, as she lay lifeless.
Despite her drug use, Smith remained intelligent and aware. "She wasn't just sitting there popping pills," he said.
After she took medication, "she was tired a lot. She would sleep a lot. But when she was up, she was a happy, fun-loving young lady who liked the attention and enjoyed her fans."
Brighthaupt said he tried to discourage her from taking so much medicine.
"That was my job — to protect her from herself," he said.
Court was recessed until Monday when Brighthaupt faces further cross-examination.