Key hearing set in Anna Nicole Smith death case
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge on Monday ordered Anna Nicole Smith's longtime boyfriend and two doctors to face a hearing in August to determine if they must stand trial for illegally supplying the Playboy model with prescription drugs for years before she died of an accidental overdose.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley said the preliminary hearing would begin within 10 days of Aug 12 for Howard K. Stern, who was also Smith's lawyer, her psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor.
Stern, 40, and the two doctors are charged with conspiracy and prescribing painkillers, sleeping pills, anxiety medications and other drugs to Smith between 2004 and her death on Feb 8, 2007 from an overdose of prescription drugs.
Wesley began the hearing by issuing a bench warrant for Kapoor, 41, after the doctor didn't turn up but quashed it after he arrived late, saying that a patient had an emergency.
Stern and the two doctors are accused of obtaining the pills for Smith by using false names, but their lawyers say they were merely carrying out Smith's wishes and that the drugs were prescribed for legitimate medical reasons.
If convicted, all three defendants could face more than 5 years in prison.
Smith was found unresponsive at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on February 8, 2007 and was pronounced dead at a local hospital within hours.
Her death came shortly after the birth of her daughter and the death of her 20-year-old son, who also died of an overdose from prescription drugs and methadone.
Smith, who was 39 when she died, is best known as a Playboy Playmate and Guess jeans model. With her buxom blond looks, she often emulated Marilyn Monroe, who died of a drug overdose in August, 1962 at the age of 36.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)