LOS ANGELES – will the nannies testify?
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry raised the issue last week.
"It sounds to me like we are getting toward the end of the people's case," said Perry. "Are the nannies going to testify?"
Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose said, "If I were the defense I would prepare for their testimony. We are doing what we can to bring them here."
The two women, Nadine Alexie and Quethlie Alexis, are Haitians who worked for Smith in the Bahamas caring for her baby. They have not testified in a public forum but their comments to private and government investigators have been subjects of controversy since Smith died at the age of 39 of a drug overdose.
Howard K. Stern, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, and a psychiatrist, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich are on trial on charges related to over-prescribing drugs and illegally obtaining drugs for Smith under pseudonyms. The allegations include giving drugs to an addict. They are not charged with causing her death which was ruled an accident. They have pleaded not guilty.
The judge pressed attorney Rose further: "You are remarkably evasive regarding the nannies."
Co-prosecutor David Burkhart said there were visa and travel problems because the nannies who would be coming from The Bahamas.
Rose said she hoped they would arrive this week, but defense attorney Steve Sadow then raised the problem of language translations for one of the nannies who speaks a creole dialect. The judge asked if Rose had arranged for a translator and she said she had not.
"I'm not sure there's a creole interpreter in all of Los Angeles," said the judge who suggested she notify the court interpreters' office immediately.
"The nannies are in the wind, so to speak," said the judge.
During a preliminary hearing last year, a Department of Justice investigator read statements made to him during an interview of nanny Nadine Alexie in which she said that Stern and Eroshevich persuaded Smith to take drugs that sometimes left her asleep for three days at a time.
Sections of the lengthy transcript of interviews with the two women by investigator Danny Santiago were excised from the hearing by the judge who said they were too inflammatory. The nannies are considered to be key witnesses against Stern.
Before court recessed last week, one proposed prosecution witness was called to testify outside the jury's presence. Ford Shelley Jr., a member of a South Carolina family with whom Smith stayed during the last months of her life, said he had no memory of seeing medication bottles with Stern's name on them in Smith's possession.
Asked if he had ever expressed an opinion about Stern, he said vehemently, "I've said it before and I'll say it now. He wouldn't have done anything to hurt her and I don't know why he's here."
His sister-in-law, Melaine Thompson, testified that when she first met the former Playboy model appeared wobbly on her feet.
"She appeared to be intoxicated or medicated," she said.
She gave lengthy testimony about Smith's deterioration after the death of her son, Daniel.
Stern's lawyer, Sadow, asked: "You never once observed Howard K. Stern give Anna medication, is that correct?"
"Correct," answered the witness.