LOS ANGELES — Anna Nicole Smith was ill, confused and isolated in a hotel room with a cornucopia of prescription drugs in the days before her death, an investigator testified Tuesday in a criminal case stemming from the celebrity model's overdose death.
California Department of Justice investigator Danny Santiago testified that witnesses said Smith was unable to walk unassisted into the Florida hotel, and she was so weak she could not sit up to drink liquids.
The testimony was presented in a preliminary hearing involving charges that Smith's former lawyer-boyfriend Howard K. Stern and two California doctors conspired to illegally provide Smith with controlled substances before her drug-overdose death at age 39.
Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry, who will decide if there is enough evidence to send the case to trial, noted the defendants have not been accused of killing Smith and questioned the relevance when prosecutor Renee Rose asked Santiago about Smith's cause of death.
"There is not a murder charge," Perry said. "The cause of death is not an issue."
Stern, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and Dr. Khristina Eroshevich have pleaded not guilty. Their attorneys have said they are undecided or unlikely to call defense witnesses during the preliminary hearing.
Santiago's testimony was mostly a summary of what Florida law enforcement investigators had learned after Smith's fatal collapse in the hotel room on Feb. 8, 2007. He also identified prescription drugs found in the hotel room as the prosecutor showed pictures of bottles and hundreds of pills.
Some of the prescriptions were in Stern's name, although some used an alternate spelling, Stearn, and some had been prescribed by Eroshevich, Santiago said.
Smith was drinking Pedialyte in a baby bottle
Smith's autopsy concluded she died of "acute combined drug intoxication," and the drugs involved were chloral hydrate combined with Benadryl, clonazepam, diazepam and lorazepam. Clonazepam and Soma, both muscle relaxants, and the sedative diazepam were among medications found in the suite.
Santiago recounted a detective's description of Smith's arrival at the hotel on Feb. 5.
"He said she was being supported by Mr. Stern," Santiago said. "He was holding her as they walked through the lobby. He said she wasn't her usual vivacious self. She seemed down and was possibly ill."
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He also testified that Stern had told an investigator he had been giving Smith the children's electrolyte formula Pedialyte in a baby bottle and that she was so confused she asked where her baby was.
Stern told Smith the baby, Dannielynn, had remained in the Bahamas during their trip to Florida to buy a boat.
Stern also told investigators that Smith had complained of flu-like symptoms and was being treated with Tamiflu by Eroshevich, who had the suite next door, Santiago said.
During some of the testimony, Stern sat forward in his courtroom chair with his head in his hands.
Stern is named in all 11 counts of the complaint. The doctors each face six counts, including conspiracy, and if convicted could be sentenced to as much as five years, eight months in prison. It was not clear what sentence Stern might face if convicted.
Smith died in the midst of a long legal battle to collect millions of dollars from the estate of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall II, owner of Great Northern Oil Co. Smith was 26 when she wed the 89-year-old tycoon. They met while she was a topless dancer at a Texas strip club.
That battle is unresolved. The estate ultimately may go to Smith's daughter, now 3.
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