LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a surprise move, lawyers for three defendants in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case announced in court Thursday they would not call any witnesses after the prosecution rests its case.
“We don’t believe the people have presented sufficient evidence to prove their case,” attorney Ellyn Garofalo, who represents defendant Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, said later outside court.
The prosecution planned to rest its case Friday after final testimony from an expert witness.
Lawyer Steve Sadow, who represents defendant Howard K. Stern, said he would present a number of photographs as evidence.
“But as the evidence stands now, we will be calling no witnesses,” Sadow said.
Prosecutor Renee Rose told the judge the defense move was a surprise and asked for two days next week to prepare for final arguments. The judge said he might allow one day.
Defense attorneys have vigorously cross-examined a long parade of prosecution witnesses. Superior Court Judge Robert Perry has said outside the jury’s presence the lawyers had destroyed the credibility of some of them.
Stern, Kapoor and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to provide excessive opiates and sedatives to Smith, who is described in the charges as an addict. They are not charged in her 2007 drug overdose death.
Perry has repeatedly raised questions about whether Smith was an addict or someone with pain seeking a remedy.
He said he was happy there would not be any defense witnesses.
“I’m going to start working on jury instructions,” Perry said after hearing six weeks of testimony form prosecution witnesses.
The developments set the stage for final arguments next week and a schedule that could allow the case to go to the jury the following week.
Prosecutors spent Thursday morning questioning California Justice Department investigator Danny Santiago about the numerous prescription bottles he obtained while pursuing the case.
Perry angrily broke off the questioning when Rose tried to ask Santiago whether his work had turned up an alias of Jane Brown for Smith.
“No!” Perry shouted. “I am not allowing that. That is an improper question.”
After Santiago testified about the dozens of bottles he had found, the judge told jurors the California Legislature has found that prescription medications play a central role in treatment of pain.
“The number of pills are not a determinative factor in this case,” the judge said. “Please keep that in mind.”
Later, the judge gave lawyers a 15-page document he had prepared with questions for lawyers to answer on Monday during defense arguments to dismiss the charges.
Perry already has said he was likely to throw out some counts before the case goes to the jury.
His first question was: “What evidence shows that Anna Nicole Smith took drugs to get high or obtain a euphoric state and not to relieve pain?”
He went on to question virtually all of the alleged overt acts attributed to the defendants, asking “How is this act an overt act done in furtherance of the conspiracy?”
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