Bodyguard who saw Anna Nicole Smith shortly before death testifying in drug conspiracy case
LOS ANGELES – A bodyguard who was one of the last people to see Anna Nicole Smith alive is testifying in the drug conspiracy trial of her lawyer boyfriend and two doctors, but his story may be different than during last year's preliminary hearing.
Maurice Brighthaupt's testimony comes on the heels of compelling opening statements Wednesday by a prosecutor and three defense attorneys who disputed whether the case is one of three scheming conspirators feeding an addict drugs or a love story of three caring people dedicated to helping Smith overcome her chronic pain.
Brighthaupt, who tried to revive Smith in the hotel room where she died in February 2007, will be limited in what he can talk about when he takes the stand Thursday.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry has said Smith's cause of death is not an issue in the trial of Howard K. Stern, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich. They are accused of providing vast amounts of powerful opiates and sedatives for the Playboy model under multiple names, but they are not charged with causing her death. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Last year, Brighthaupt said he saw the two defendants giving her drug injections, a claim that Stern's lawyer says is false. Brighthaupt's cross-examination is expected to focus on changes he made in his story since 2007 when he was paid $150,000 for interviews with various cable TV outlets.
He has claimed that many things he said then were lies intended to protect Smith's reputation.
On Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose, accused the three defendants of conspiring to give Smith massive amounts of opiates and sedatives although they knew she was addicted. Defense attorneys said she was not an addict but was dependent on prescription medication to relieve chronic pain.
Rose displayed pictures on a courtroom screen of prescriptions that included methadone and Dilaudid, a drug known as "hospital heroin."
"Anna Nicole Smith took a lot of methadone for pain and she took Dilaudid on top of that," Rose said.
Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, was in the courtroom with other relatives — a reminder of protracted court battles in the Bahamas and Florida after the 39-year-old Smith died of a drug overdose.
Kapoor's lawyer, Ellyn Garafalo, responded that his prescriptions were appropriate and they worked for Smith.
"He managed her pain and he acted in good faith," she said.
"We're talking about long-term unrelenting pain," she said, "We don't look at how many pills are in the bottle. We're looking at whether a patient can live a normal life without pain."
She added, "We are not here to second guess medical judgment. In fact, a doctor's judgment is not subject to criminal prosecution."
The three defense lawyers suggested the three people on trial are cared deeply for Smith — none more so than Stern who went through a commitment ceremony with her shortly before she died.
Rose claimed he was the center of the drug conspiracy saying, "None of it could have happened without Mr. Stern,"
Stern's lawyer, Steve Sadow, painted a picture of an intense love story in which Stern was her lawyer, manager, lover and friend.
"He cared for her and cherished her. He loved her," said Sadow. "Witness after witness will tell you that."
But he said that Stern relied on the medical expertise of doctors to prescribe what was needed to alleviate Smith's constant pain. He stressed that Stern is not a doctor and could not had conspired to prescribe drugs.
Eroshevich's lawyer, Brad Brunon, said she was a caring friend and neighbor of Smith who just happened to be a psychiatrist. When Smith was devastated by the death of her son just after she gave birth to her daughter he said she called on her friend for help and Eroshevich rushed to bring her drugs in the Bahamas that might alleviate her pain. He said she had a responsible plan for administering them one at a time.