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Judge: Jurors may get confused in Smith trial

September 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
As the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy trial prepares to go to the jury, the judge delivered a plea to both the defense and prosecution.The judge's remarks were aimed primarily at prosecutors. Judge Robert Perry told them the case needs to be simplified so that jurors will not get confused. The judge is worried that jurors are going to be so confused that they'll get lost.

Smith was dependent on pain medication, because she was in pain and needed relief. That is the explanation of three defendants who helped her obtain medications and now face felony charges in a highly unusual and complex case.

The judge reviewed the counts and saw a murky picture of the evidence. So murky, that as he formed instructions for the jury, he even proposed telling them, "If you find this too confusing, you should acquit."

One example was the fact that Dr. Khristine Erosovich, Anna Nicole's neighbor and friend, came to treat the Playboy playmate, especially in the Bahamas after the death of her son Daniel. According to prosecutor Sean Carney, that action is outside the course of usual professional treatment and is illegal.

Yet Judge Perry looked to what he called the core of the case: Was there a legitimate medical purpose behind Dr. Erosovich's action? And if there was, was there a crime?

Carney alleged that Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, Erosovich and Howard K. Stern engaged in 81 overt acts that support the 21 felony counts.

On Tuesday, the judge found some redundant, others unproved and many still with questions attached. What is the legal definitions of pain and of excessive medication? What does it mean to administer a drug? What is a false name?

The prosecutor reminded the court of the intention of the law--to regulate controlled substances.

Investigators found 44 prescriptions under nine aliases. Prosecutors said any false names, even a celebrity's stage names for prescriptions, are violations.

Yet, giving true names should not be troublesome, said Carney. Pharmacies relay them only to the government. That statement prompted an outburst from the judge.

He recalled the Farrah Fawcett case where a medical center employee leaked information to the tabloids.

"Let's get to the real world here," said the judge.