Saying he wanted to avoid "a circus sideshow," a judge barred prosecutors Thursday from asking a witness whether a sexual relationship existed between celebrity model Anna Nicole Smith and the woman psychiatrist accused of providing her with excessive medication.
Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry objected when the issue was raised during questioning of Smith's bodyguard.
"What's the relevance?" he asked Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose.
Rose said it would show motivation for Dr. Khristine Eroshevich to grant Smith's demand for increasing amounts of medication.
Search warrants executed in the case and released a few weeks ago described photos of Smith and Eroshevich in a bathtub in a sexual situation.
"This is a preliminary hearing," Perry told the prosecutors. "It's not a trial. It's to determine if there's probable cause for a trial. I'm just not going to turn this into some circus sideshow."
‘Most important person in her life’
Though he shut down questioning on the issue for now, Perry said it could be raised at trial before another judge, who could then rule on its relevance.
Rose said the prosecution would contend that Eroshevich prescribed medications for Smith under false names because she was "someone who had a motive to become the central person in the entourage."
"Dr. Eroshevich becomes the most important person in her life," Rose said. "She becomes the main prescribing entity."
Co-prosecutor Sean Carney said expert medical witnesses would testify there was a breakdown in the professional boundaries between doctor and patient, evidenced by a sexual relationship.
"When you have someone who is an addictive personality, the doctors will testify it was important to maintain professional boundaries," he said.
Eroshevich, Howard K. Stern and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor are charged with conspiring to illegally provide controlled substances to Smith.
All three have pleaded not guilty. The defendants are not charged with Smith's death at a Florida hotel in 2007, which was ruled an accidental overdose.
Agonizing final days
In his second day on the witness stand, bodyguard Maurice Brighthaupt said repeatedly that Eroshevich and Stern, who was Smith's boyfriend-lawyer, never meant her any harm and cared deeply about her well-being.
The point was highlighted by attorney Adam Braun, who represents Eroshevich, during his cross-examoination.
Outside court Braun called the sexual allegation a distraction and said the judge made the right call in barring the testimony.
At one point, he said she went into the swimming pool outside her hotel suite, fell off a float and sank to the bottom. He said he fished her out and did CPR to revive her.
Brighthaupt, who is a paramedic, said Smith later she began running a fever so high he wanted her to be taken to a hospital. She refused because "Anna said the paparazzi are going to be there," he recalled.
Smith had been in the headlines since her son, Daniel, died in 2006 after being stricken in her hospital room in the Bahamas, where Smith was recovering from giving birth to her daughter, Dannielynn.
Brighthaupt has testified that Smith was so devastated by her son's death that she was unable to sleep or function and began abusing prescription medications. She had come to a Florida hotel casino with Stern to buy a boat and was ill when she arrived, according to testimony.
On the day before she died, Brighthaupt said Eroshevich and Stern were present with another doctor when Smith, running a 105-degree fever, refused to go to the hospital.
"I got everyone in the room to agree if we couldn't get her temperature down we would take her to the hospital," Brighthaupt testified. He said the group decided to have him put her in a tub of water and pour ice over her.
"She was crying and begging to come out of the ice water," said Brighthaupt who thought it was the wrong therapy for the condition. Eventually, he said the ice brought her temperature down to 96 or 97.
"I wanted her to come out," he said. "I couldn't stand it when she cried."
Eventually, he said, "I picked her up and put her in a towel on the bed."
The following morning, he said, Stern left to look at a boat and Brighthaupt was dispatched to pick up visitors from the Bahamas. The bodyguard left his wife, a registered nurse, to watch over the sleeping Smith. After a short time, she called him.
"She said, 'Anna's not breathing,'" he recalled, saying he told her to call 911 while he rushed back to the suite.
"She looked pale. Her lips were a little blue. When I picked her up she was a dead weight," he recalled. "I didn't find a pulse. She wasn't breathing. I just put her on the floor and began doing CPR."
Paramedics arrived but she never regained a pulse, he said.
During the account, Stern covered his face with his hands in the courtroom.