Anna Nicole Smith’s bodyguard testified today that the model-turned-reality TV star was “obsessed” with taking prescription drugs after her 20-year-old son died in the Bahamas.
“She would ask for it first. If it’s not given, she would demand it — like an addict. She was obsessed,” Maurice Brighthaupt told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing the case against Smith’s longtime companion, Howard K. Stern, and physicians Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor.
Stern — who was also Smith’s personal attorney — and the two doctors are accused of conspiring to prescribe, administer and dispense controlled substances to an addict from June 2004 until Feb. 8, 2007 — the day Smith died from an accidental prescription drug overdose in a Florida hotel room at age 39.
Because the three are not charged in Smith’s death, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry ruled that prosecutors could not present evidence about the overdose out of concern that jurors might become prejudiced against the defendants.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 295-pound bodyguard said he saw Stern and Eroshevich give medication to Smith at the home where they were staying in Nassau, including one instance in which Stern injected her with a substance believed to be Valium from a burnt spoon.
He said he was told that she couldn’t swallow and that it was a quicker way to get the medication into her bloodstream.
The bodyguard told jurors that he was concerned she was taking too much medication, including drinking directly from a bottle containing a sedative. He said he expressed his concern to Eroshevich, who agreed, and that both of them thought fake pills and a rehabilitation program might be a good idea.
But Brighthaupt testified that Stern told him that Smith had been in rehabilitation before and had vowed not to return.
On one occasion, Stern went to a liquor store in the Bahamas and brought back alcohol, but Eroshevich “started crying and threatened to leave if she (Smith) were to mix alcohol with the prescription drugs,” he testified.
“(Stern) was saying she can handle it,” Brighthaupt testified, noting that Eroshevich’s tearful threat did stop Smith from drinking at that point.
Eroshevich — who lived next door to Smith in Studio City and went to the Bahamas to stay with Smith after her son died — also tried to hide medication from her, with Smith confronting Eroshevich and claiming that she
was stealing it, the bodyguard testified.
Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose, the witness said he had delivered a few packages to Smith that had been sent by Eroshevich or her ex-husband that contained medication.
On one occasion, Stern sent him home to retrieve a package that he had forgotten, Brighthaupt testified.
The bodyguard told the six-man, six-woman panel that he began working for Smith in late 2003 and that the former Playboy Playmate had a bag of medication for which Stern was responsible when they traveled with her in 2004.
“She was tired a lot. She would sleep a lot. When she was up, she was very fun, fun-loving … enjoyed the attention, enjoyed her fans,” he said.
Brighthaupt testified that there were a couple of occasions when be believed the combination of prescription drugs and alcohol was too much, with Smith slurring her speech, having trouble walking and, in one instance, had to be carried back to her tour bus. He said he and Stern tried to stop her from drinking and embarrassing
herself because “we wanted her to be in the right state of mind before she goes out in the public eye.”
The bodyguard described Smith as “a hurt lady” after the death of her son, Daniel, three days after she gave birth to daughter Danielynn in September 2006.
“She was incredibly depressed. She was in pain,” he said, noting that the star of “The Anna Nicole Smith Show” would “brighten up” upon seeing her newborn daughter but grow sad upon seeing things that reminded her of her son.
“For the most part, she was in bed sleeping … over 12 hours on occasion,” Brighthaupt said.
The bodyguard testified that he had to stop a distraught Smith after she tried to climb into her son’s casket at his funeral.
On one occasion after her son was buried, Smith was sitting on a floatation device in the pool a few hours after taking her medication, and Stern yelled that she had fallen into the water.
Brighthaupt — who works as a firefighter/paramedic in Miami — said he dove into the pool and grabbed her as she floated to the bottom, then gave her CPR after she appeared not to be breathing.
“She couldn’t have been so medicated that you thought something was going to happen?” Stern’s attorney, Steve Sadow, asked the bodyguard.
“But apparently she was,” the witness responded.
Brighthaupt acknowledged doing a series of interviews, including some for which he was paid, saying he felt it was his obligation as “someone who protected her in life” to try to save Smith’s reputation after she died. He
denied at the time that there was methadone in the house — a painkiller that he testified he did see in the home.
“I wanted to divert (the talk about drugs) and disclaim all of that,” he said.
“Did you tell them the truth?” Rose asked.
“I did not,” he responded.
Brighthaupt said after a series of requests for interviews with an investigator that he knew he finally had to tell the truth. He said he felt bad about having to testify against Eroshevich — whom
he is fond — and Stern.
“I want this to be over,” Brighthaupt said. “I just think it needs to be over.”
Under cross-examination by Stern’s attorney, the bodyguard said he believed Stern cared for and loved Smith and didn’t think Stern ever forced her to take the medication.
“Nobody could tell Anna what to do, right?” Sadow asked.
“I didn’t think so,” the bodyguard responded.
“I believe that he wouldn’t knowingly do anything to hurt her … He would not do anything to hurt her,” Brighthaupt said of Stern and Smith.
Stern, 41, is charged with 11 felony counts, including prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict, obtaining a prescription for opiates by deceit, fraud or misrepresentation and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Eroshevich, a 61-year-old psychiatrist, and Kapoor, a 41-year-old doctor who specializes in internal and geriatric medicine, are each charged with six felony counts, including unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance, prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict and conspiracy to commit a crime.
The trial could take up to three months.