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Image: Howard K. Stern
Robyn Beck  /  AFP - Getty Images
Defendents Howard K. Stern, center, the longtime companion of Anna Nicole Smith, and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, right, are seen during a lunch break on the first day of opening arguments in the trial of Stern, Kapoor and another doctor in Los Angeles.
updated 8/4/2010 9:16:44 PM ET 2010-08-05T01:16:44

Two doctors violated their responsibility to protect Anna Nicole Smith by prescribing massive amounts of drugs with the connivance of her lawyer-boyfriend, even though they knew she was addicted to painkillers, a prosecutor argued Wednesday.

But a defense attorney for Howard K. Stern said he loved Smith and depended on doctors to prescribe the right medications for her chronic pain. He said she was not an addict.

Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, was in the courtroom with other relatives — a reminder of protracted court battles in the Bahamas and Florida after Smith died of a drug overdose in February 2007.

The contentions of Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose came during opening statements at the conspiracy trial of Stern, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, who are accused of providing vast amounts of powerful opiates and sedatives for the Playboy model under multiple names.

"None of it could have happened without Mr. Stern," Rose added during her two-hour presentation in Superior Court.

Stern's attorney, Steve Sadow, was the first to present the defense position. He said Stern was many things to Smith — lawyer, adviser, friend, manager and boyfriend.

"He cared for her and cherished her. He loved her," said Sadow. "Witness after witness will tell you that."

He said jurors would not be able to find a bad motive for Stern's actions. But he separated him from the other defendants.

"Howard K. Stern relied in good faith on the medical judgment of her doctors. He relied on their judgment on what was medically right and necessary for Anna Nicole Smith. Anna Nicole had pain, real pain, chronic pain."

Sadow stressed that Stern is not a doctor and suggested there was no conspiracy because, "If you don't know there's something wrong with what you're doing, there can't be an illegal agreement."

Stern and the doctors have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to illegally furnishing the drugs. Each could face more than five years in prison if convicted, and the doctors would lose their medical licenses.

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They are not accused of causing Smith's 2007 overdose death at age 39 at a Florida hotel.

Lawyers for the doctors and Stern have suggested they were desperately trying to save the doomed model during a period when she gave birth to a daughter and lost her grown son to a drug overdose.

Rose displayed pictures Wednesday 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.

Kapoor's lawyer, Ellyn Garafalo, said Wednesday that Kapoor's prescriptions were appropriate and worked, and "he managed her pain and he acted in good faith."

"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."

Jurors also were shown pictures of Eroshevich with Smith following the 2006 birth of the model's daughter, Dannielynn.

The psychiatrist's attorney, Bradley Brunon, said the two women were friends and neighbors and when Smith's son died, she called her friend for help. He said Eroshevich rushed to bring drugs to her in the Bahamas. He said a controversial order for drugs, which a pharmacist refused to fill because he called it "pharmaceutical suicide," were never meant to be given all at once. He said they were part of a plan to try each drug and see which one would work best.

"It was a way to try to get medicines to a part of the world where they didn't have them," he said.

Rose argued Kapoor filled Smith's prescriptions, even though another doctor warned that she was an addict.

The prosecutor said Smith went to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2006, where doctors advised weaning her from drugs because of her pregnancy. But Kapoor immediately began prescribing drugs for Smith again upon her release, Rose said.

The prosecutor quoted from a diary kept by Kapoor that spoke of the "mesmerizing" effect of being with a celebrity and added: "Can she ruin me?"

Rose also suggested that Smith was a coconspirator because she demanded drugs from doctors. Sadow accused the prosecutor of trying to say Smith "was a criminal" when all she wanted was to ease her pain. He described her as a strong willed and independent woman who took control of most things in her life including her medications.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Anna Nicole Smith

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  1. Texas teen

    Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia (Texas) High School yearbook under the name Nikki Hart. School officials say Smith went by the name Nikki Hart during her brief tenure there. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Short, tragic life

    The cover of the June 1993 Playmate of the Year issue of Playboy magazine featured Anna Nicole Smith. Smith, the pneumatic blonde whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale -- jeans model, Playboy centerfold, widow of an octogenarian billionaire, reality-show subject, tragic mother -- died Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, after collapsing at a Hollywood, Fla., hotel. She was 39. (Playboy) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. She had drive

    Smith holds a Texas license plate that reads "PMOY 93" (Playmate of the Year). (Time & Life Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Happy husband

    Millionaire J. Howard Marshall II made headlines in 1994 when he married Smith. She was 26 and he was 89. He died Aug. 5, 1995, when he was 90. Smith and Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall, battled over Marshall's estate. The boy next to Marshall is Smith's late son, Daniel. (Sipa Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Daniel's short life

    Smith and her son Daniel, 13, leave a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 1999. His body was found in the Bahamas on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006. A coroner's report ruled the death was caused by an overdose of anti-depressants and methadone. (Nick Ut / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Fighting for her share

    Smith listens in court in Houston with her attorneys Tom Cunningham and Howard Stern on Monday, Oct. 2, 2000. Sixteen jurors, four of them alternates, were seated to hear the lawsuit where Smith laid claim to a share of the oil fortune of her deceased husband, J. Howard Marshall II. Smith married the Texas oil tycoon in 1994 and he died the following year. Stern later reportedly married Smith and claimed to be the father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. (Steve Ueckert / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Back to work

    Smith is surrounded by members of KISS at the conclusion of the Lane Bryant show featuring plus size fashions in New York on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002. The legendary rock band gave a live performance throughout the runway show, which kicked off New York Fashion Week. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Activist

    In this handout image from PETA, Smith poses as Marliyn Monroe for a 2004 ad campaign titled, Gentlemen Prefer Fur Free Blondes. PETA's Michael McGraw said in reaction to Smith's death, "She was a great friend to animals and used every opportunity to speak out against senseless cruelty." (PETA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Hot pink

    Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week in New York on Feb. 12, 2004. (Matthew Peyton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Always outrageous

    Smith feigns a "wardrobe malfunction" before announcing Rikku in "Final Fantasy X-2" as the Hottest Character award winner during "G-Phoria -- The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles on Aug. 1, 2004. (Jim Ruymen / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Strange behavior

    Smith waves during an appearance backstage during the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on July 2, 2005. The production company behind the concerts claimed in a lawsuit against Trimspa Inc. that its reputation was damaged by Smith's attire and conduct. Smith, a spokesperson for Trimspa, was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Coke Whitworth / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Wowing the Supremes

    Smith and her lawyer Howard K. Stern leave the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2006. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Smith could continue her claim for part of her late husband's fortune. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Home sweet home?

    Smith holds her daughter Dannielyn Hope and poses with Stern and "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Mark Steines at the couple's home in the Bahamas on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006. Businessman and former boyfriend G. Ben Thompson threatened to evict Smith from her Bahamas home, claiming she wasn't making the mortgage payments. (Entertainment Tonight via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. No sign of trouble

    Smith watched a boxing match from near ringside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2007. She died Feb. 8, 2007. (Hans Deryk / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A mother mourns

    Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, center, and her husband James Arthur, left, embrace as the coffin of Anna Nicole leaves a Bahamas church on March 2, 2007, as the former Playboy model headed to her final resting three weeks after her death. A throng of Bahamians, tourists and media crushed behind police barriers as the pink-laced white coffin was carried into the Mount Horeb Baptist Cathedral in Nassau, Bahamas, for a funeral ceremony closed to all but 300 invited guests.The church was reportedly filled with pink roses, and sources close to the funeral said Smith's body was clad in a gown and tiara. (Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Laid to rest

    Locals stand before the grave of Smith at the Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Nassau, Bahamas, on March 2, 2007. (Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. 'I told you so!'

    Larry Birkhead rejoices after hearing in a Bahamian court on April 10, 2007, that he has been proven to be the legal father of Smith's baby, Dannielynn. Birkhead later hugged Howard K. Stern, who had been acting as the baby's father. (Christine Aylen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Derby day with daughter

    Birkhead and Dannielynn feed a pony at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, April 28. 2010. Birkhead, a Louisville native, first met Anna Nicole at a 2004 party around the famous horse race. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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