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Anna Nicole judge dismisses Stern conviction

January 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
It was a huge victory in court for Anna Nicole Smith's longtime companion Howard K. Stern and psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich, as the judge threw out the drug conspiracy convictions against them."This was Anna's life, and she was in incredible pain. She was suffering, and the prosecution, later on in this case, tried to take advantage of that and portray her in a negative light, and it was totally inappropriate," Stern said after the decision was announced.

Stating that the case was a complex one, Superior Court Judge Robert Perry noted that the three defendants, Stern, Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, collectively faced 23 guilty verdicts, but the jury acquitted them of all but six. Kapoor was acquitted of all charges.

Perry called that a stunning repudiation of the prosecution's case. He went on to say that he never saw any evidence that Stern had any intent to defraud anyone, and that he only tried to guard the privacy of his celebrity girlfriend when he obtained prescriptions for her.

The judge said that he believed Smith suffered from chronic pain and needed those drugs as the doctors prescribed.

"This case should never have been brought. It was a waste of time, it was a waste of effort, and it impacted people's lives in a horrible way," said Stern's attorney Steve Sadow.

Perry allowed only one conviction to remain against Eroshevich but reduced it to a misdemeanor. Citing her long career and service to the community, Perry only sentenced Eroshevich to no more than one year of probation and a $100 fine for obtaining one Vicodin prescription under a false name.

"I'm very happy, I'm grateful, I can live with a misdemeanor," Eroshevich said following the hearing.

The judge's decision drew fire from Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who said the jury rendered a fair decision based on the evidence.

"Judge Perry's ruling today is totally inconsistent with his previous ruling at the preliminary hearing, the trial itself and once again when the defense concluded their case. Each time, he refused to dismiss the conspiracy counts. The evidence has not changed from that time to now," Cooley said in a statement.

The district attorney said the judge's decision could still be repealed. Cooley also said that he may seek a retrial on some of the counts where the jury couldn't reach a verdict.

The day before sentencing, lawyers for Eroshevich and Stern had asked to have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors or dismissed in the interest of justice. In written motions, the lawyers accused the district attorney's office of singling out the doctor and lawyer for prosecution "for political and publicity purposes, not justice."

Smith died of a drug overdose in 2007.


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