In death as in life, nothing is ever simple when it comes to Anna Nicole Smith.
The verdicts in the drug conspiracy trial against defendants Howard K. Stern, Smith’s occasional lover and lawyer, and doctors Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich turned out to be as much of a mixed bag as the pill cocktails the model used to take.
Stern was convicted on two of the nine counts. Kapoor, Smith’s personal physician, was acquitted on all six criminal charges. Eroshevich was convicted on four, two of conspiracy and two for illegally prescribing drugs to Smith.
Both Stern and Eroshevich could see a maximum of three years in jail, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles district attorney said.
It took almost two weeks of deliberation, almost three months in court and three years after the woman at the center of it died for the six-man and six-woman jury to reach their verdicts
Stern and the two doctors had all pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraudulently obtaining drugs under false names and excessive prescribing of opiates and sedatives to an addict. Despite the rumblings of the judge who oversaw where the model's body ended up, the trio was not charged with Smith's 2007 death in a hotel room in Hollywood, Florida -- which was ruled as an accidental drug OD.
The verdict was read out in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom of Judge Robert Perry early Thursday afternoon after the jury told the judge they reached a decision around 11:30AM. No cameras were allowed inside, leaving a garrison of media outside on LA's Temple Street.
There was some speculation that two questions about procedure and the legality of certain prescriptions that the jury submitted to the judge on Oct. 27 were a sign that the jury would be hung … which, after all this time and effort, would have left a lot of egg on the face of the LA DA’s office.
From the beginning of the trial Deputy district attorney Renee Rose tried to paint Anna Nicole as a helpless blonde manipulated by Stern and then Kapoor and Eroshevich for sex, money and fame. It is a portrayal each of the trio’s defense lawyers have fought inch for inch over their time in court.
“"Anna Nicole Smith,” said Stern’s attorney Steve Sadow on the trial’s on Aug. 4 to the jury, “controlled her own life.”
One argument that all three defense lawyers returned to again and again to fuel their assertion that Smith was in control of her own intake was that Anna Nicole took prescription drugs to deal with chronic pain, and that was her right as well as a need.
"Pain is as real as the person feeling it," said Brad Brunon, Eroshevich’s lawyer, in closing argument on Oct. 6. "The pain that is emotionally based is as excruciating as any other pain."
Sentencing hearing will likely come after an assessment of Stern and Eroshevich, neither of whom has a criminal record.
They could face time in county jail, probation or no time at all.