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Anna Nicole Smith's former long time boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, along with two of her doctors, will stand trial later this year for illegally supplying the deceased star with drugs.
The Playboy model died of an overdose from a cocktail of prescription drugs in 2007. Smith died in a hotel room in Florida shortly after the birth of her daughter Dannielynn and the death of her adult son Daniel also from a drug overdose. She was 39.
See this previous post for information on the charges originally filed against Stern and two doctors who treated Anna Nicole -- Khristine Eroshevich, 61, and Sandeep Kapoor, 40.
As reported by the L.A. Times, after a 13 days of preliminary hearings, the judge in the case ruled that all three defendants will stand trial. It should be noted that the level of proof prosecutors must to show in order to proceed to trial is far lower than what they will need to prove to secure convictions.
The charges against Howard K. Stern include 11 counts of unlawfully prescribing controlled drugs to an addict, including conspiracy to commit a crime and obtaining a prescription for opiates by deceit.
The two doctors, Eroshevich and Kapoor, each face six charges for the same offenses.
Together, the trio allegedly conspired to acquire drugs for the model under fake names. Defense lawyers argued it was a practice intended to protect the celebrity's privacy.
All defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming they were unaware Smith was an addict and they were trying to help her.
Kapoor's lawyer said prosecutors could make it difficult for California doctors to treat their patients for pain.
If convicted of all charges, each faces more than five years in prison.
According to CNN Stern's lawyer, Steve Sadow, argued that Stern should not be charged on the grounds that the law is meant for medical professionals and he didn't know it was illegal to obtain medication with a prescription written out to a false name.
"He's being charged here with doctor-related activities, which doctors have specific knowledge [of] and he's just a layperson," Sadow told the judge.
Authorities have described Stern, as the linchpin - or "principal enabler" according to the state attorney general - of a conspiracy to provide Smith with thousands of pills, including Xanax, Ambien and methadone. One pharmacist has characterized Anna Nicole's list of meds as a recipe for "pharmaceutical suicide."
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry made his ruling for Stern, Eroshevich and Kapoor to stand trial after a 13-days of preliminary hearings including witness accounts and the review of medical files which persuaded the judge that Smith was an addict.
Guess, we'll find out just what the doctor ordered...