LOS ANGELES – With Howard K. Stern watching solemnly, his lawyer told jurors in his drug conspiracy trial that he loved Anna Nicole Smith and never conspired to give her harmful drugs.
"Witnesses have said he cherished her, loved her. She was the love of his life," said attorney Steve Sadow.
He said prosecutors calling Stern her manager throughout the trial was an effort to diminish his role in Smith's life.
"Here's a guy whose been with her since 2001," Sadow told jurors. "He was her manager, lawyer, best friend, lover. He was everything to her and she was everything to him," Sadow said.
He told how Stern attended the birth of Smith's daughter and said it was to be the beginning of a new life for them.
But when her 20-year-old son died in her hospital room, he said, "The best of times became a nightmare, a nightmare that Anna never recovered from."
Stern and Drs. Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to provide excessive prescription drugs to an addict and other charges. They are not charged in Smith's 2007 accidental overdose death in Florida
Sadow denied that Stern was involved in giving her excessive drugs or faking names on prescriptions saying the names were used by doctors, pharmacists and even hospitals to protect her privacy.
But he acknowledged that Stern used his own name on prescriptions after Smith moved to the Bahamas and he transported needed medications to her.
Sadow took jurors through prescriptions, day by day, and said that Stern, who is not a doctor, could not have conspired with doctors to overprescribe opiates and sedatives to her. Like two other defense lawyers who spoke before him, he said Smith was not an addict but a woman in pain seeking relief.
The opening volley of Sadow's closing argument, which lasted all day Thursday and was to continue Friday, was an attack on the prosecution case which he denounced as deceitful and misleading.
"This trial was supposed to be a search for the truth, not win at all costs," he told the jurors. "...It's time for someone to step up and say it's not right."
He accused prosecutors of "trashing" the former Playboy model and, turning toward prosecutors, he said: "How dare you degrade and disparage Anna's life?"
He claimed prosecutors presented misleading evidence including a picture of Smith with a bruised face to suggest Stern had hurt her when they knew she had undergone a cosmetic procedure.
"How do you do this in a courtroom?" he shouted. "You don't deceive the people making the decision."
"This is not a game," Sadow said. "This is a trial. This is something serious."
Prosecutors were to present a rebuttal argument before the case goes to the jury.