As I have read through the 39 page transcript of the criminal hearing from January 6, 2011, I notice several things I will comment on and ask you what are your thoughts to Judge Perry in this hearing? I will then close this chapter of the saga with some personal thoughts.
On the hearing on January 6, 2011 the appearances in front of Judge Robert L. Perry were:
THE STATE OF California. Renee Rose, Sean Carney, & David Barkhurst Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County..
Bradley Brunon attorney at law and his client defendant Dr. Khristine Eroshevich
Steven Sadow & Christopher Smith with their client defendant Howard K. Stern.
Judge Robert Perry first outlined the charges brought by the prosecution, summarized those charges as follows: “The District Attorney brought an extremely complex criminal prosecution in this matter involving three conspiracy counts and eight substantive counts against three Defendants which allege criminal acts over a period of approximately three years. The theory of the case was that the defendants wrongfully obtained excessive quantities of prescription drugs for Anna Nicole Smith, who was alleged to be addicted to said drugs. The charges involved allegations of furnishing statutes and violations of obtaining prescriptions by fraud or in false names. The three defendants collectively faced a potential of 23 guilty verdicts. The jury returned six guilty verdicts, four against Eroshevich, two against Howard stern. Dr. Kapoor, the lead defendant, was acquitted on all counts.
In the next part Judge Robert Perry gives us a rundown of the charges the Jury either found not guilty or found Howard K. Stern and Dr. Eroshevich on with first a statement that in the Court’s opinion “It is the court’s view that the verdict was a stunning repudiation of the prosecution’s case.”
Mr. Stern was acquitted on all eight substantive counts. Stern and Eroshevich were convicted of two conspiracies, count 1, a conspiracy alleged to have commenced on September 11th of 2006, that continued until Ms. Smith’s death on — in February of 2007. Count 3, which was alleged to have commenced on June 5th of 2004, which continued until September 10th of 2006, the day before the count conspiracy was alleged to have commenced. Regarding the conspiracies, the jury found that Stern and Eroshevich CONSPIRED to commit two target crimes: One, to obtain a controlled substance by fraud in VIOLATION of Health and Safety Code section 11173(a), and a second target crime to unlawfully give a false name in a prescription for a controlled substance in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11174. Eroshevich was also convicted of two substantive Counts, Counts 7 and 9. Count 7 pertained to the charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud in violation of 11173(a) of the Health and Safety Code. Count 9 charged a violation of giving a false name in a prescription for a controlled substance in violation of 15 11174. Both counts involved a single prescription for Hydrocodone, otherwise known as vicodin, written on November 24th, 2006, by Eroshevich in the name Charlene Underwood.
Judge Perry then gives us the breakdown on the charges the jury deadlocked on and what the vote was by the jury:
“The jury also hung in a split of 6 to 6 for Eroshevich on counts 5 and involving the same event, the prescription for Charlene Underwood. Count 5 charged a violation of unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance, in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11153(a). Count 11 charged a crime of unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance to an addict in VIOLATION of 11156. In addition, the jury deadlocked on certain target crimes alleged in the conspiracies in Counts 1 and 3. The jury hung 5 to 7, 5 would be in favor of guilt, in favor of acquittal, for the target crime of unlawfully prescribing, administering, or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict. As to Count 1, that would be a violation of Health and Safety Code Section 11156, the jury hung 10 to 2 in favor of conviction for the target crimes on Count 1 of unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11153, and excessively prescribing or administering drugs in violation of business and profession code section 725(a). As to the Count 3 conspiracy, the jury found not true that the Defendants conspired to prescribe drugs to an addict in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11156. They — the jury found, or held rather – rather hung 7 to 5 for the unlawful prescribing of a controlled substance, 11153(a), and unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance to a person not under a physician’s treatment for a pathology other than addiction to a controlled substance, a violation of Health and Safety Code Section 11154(A) and (B). The jury also found — or hung 5 to 7 in favor of acquittal for the target crime on Count 3 of excessively prescribing or administering drugs in violation of business and profession code section 24 725(a).“
“The court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution. I have concerns about the conspiracy counts, in particular as to Mr. Stern and whether there is specific intent in the evidence to show that he had a specific intent to violate the two target crimes of which he stands convicted in both counts.” At this part of the hearing Judge Perry asked Steve Sadow to address those issues and what the evidence presented at trial.
I like the part that Sadow thanked the AP reporter and quoting from an article that appeared on January 6, 2011 saying: “I have to give due credit to the esteemed and honorable reporter Ms. Deutch for her article today. I don’t know if the Court saw it. But she found a quote that your Honor — a statement your Honor had made — and thank you, Linda. And that’s Howard K. Stern. What the evidence in this case showed is that he and Dr. Eroshevich had an agreement that prescriptions for Anna Nicole would be written in Howard’s name, and that’s all the evidence shows. There is no evidence that Howard knew of any other name, not Ben Stern, not Charlene Underwood, not any other name. He didn’t pick them up, he didn’t have anything to do with obtaining them. There was never a witness who connected any of those names to him or brought to South — to the Keys. That’s what we have.”
Steve Sadow went on to say; “We all had either the fortune or misfortune to sit through two and a half months of facts. The Court instructed the jury, and did so because all of the parties agreed, that if a defendant had a good faith belief that his or her actions were legal, he or she is not guilty of conspiracy. And I really think that’s the crux of where we are because if you look at the evidence in any light, the evidence does not show that Howard K. Stern specifically intended to break the law insofar as these two target offenses, and that he, in fact, had a good faith belief that his actions were legal.”
One of the strongest arguments I think Sadow brought to the Court’s attention is that Howard K. Stern was honest about using his name to Danny Santiago stating: “And based on the evidence here, there is not a single indication that Mr. Stern believed it was illegal to do so and didn’t have a good faith belief that it was okay. They’ve been doing it for Anna since 2000 in Michelle Chase, in Jane brown. They went on and continued to do it in the Bahamas the same way. Howard knew it was going to Anna. Dr. Eroshevich knew it was going to Anna. There was never any question about that. When agent Santiago goes to see Mr. Stern on October the 12th, in a non-custodial setting, Mr. Stern says, Absolutely, it was in my name. It was written for privacy. There wasn’t any question about it. Now, that’s not evidence of a guilty intent. That’s evidence of someone who believes that what he did was legal.”
Judge Perry brought up the question about that pesky black bag stating; “Well, the argument was made that because Mr. Stern had a bag of prescription medication that ended up in the hotel room, that that was some indication of knowledge.” To which Mr. Sadow countered with; “All his name. All Howard K. Stern’s name. Not one other name was in that bag, and that was the beginning of the trial. So we — you know, we have always acknowledged, always admitted, Howard has always done so, he knew they were being written in his name. The question is, did he specifically intend to break the law? Did he know it was illegal to do so? And I’m suggesting that the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to have convicted on that.”
Judge Perry then turned to Dr. Eroshevich’s attorney Bradley Brunon and asked: “If the evidence fails to support Stern’s involvement in a conspiracy, is it your view that the conspiracy charge against Dr. Eroshevich would fall?” To which Brunon responded in part that; “Yes, your Honor. There would have to be mutuality of intent in the conspiracy and it takes at least two people. And if one of them isn’t criminally culpable, then the other one, I would say, couldn’t be just as a matter of law.”
At this point Mr. Brunon brought up “the elephant in the room” throughout the trial saying: “There’s the additional problem that the Court very clearly, very forcefully and very early in the trial said, we’re not going to litigate Ms. Smith’s Death. And yet, it became kind of a subtle thing, a light motif. We started off very early on with the toxicologist talking about the drugs found in her body at autopsy, obviously a postmortem event. That was followed by Birkhead and others concerning about the ultimate outcome to her health in taking these medications. So it became kind of the elephant in the room.” He further brought up the millions of dollars at stake stating: “[T]hat Mr. stern was trying to drug her into a tractable state where he could make way with Marshal millions, that turned out not to be the case.”
The fact of being a celebrity was addressed by Brunon in stating; “the Journal carried a rather extensive article about the medical data leaks from institutions and doctors that go beyond celebrities to expose thousands, and I think I can cite this simply for the fact that it’s common knowledge — we talked about it during the course of the trial — that celebrities seem to be fair game to anyone that thinks they can make some money off of exposing some secret in their life.” Following this was this exchange with Judge Perry and Brunon:
“THE COURT: I remember the issue involving Farrah Fawcett and her admission at UCLA. and how people were all over themselves trying to find out what she was there for and getting copies of her records.
Mr. BRUNON: And the woman was in terminal condition, and yet someone profited by it.”
It appears that Bunon hints that a medical malpractice suit would have been more appropriate then a criminal trial when he said; “I alluded in my pleadings to the issue that kind of malpractice crept into this, Dr. Eroshevich didn’t practice psychiatry correctly; therefore, she’s guilty of writing bad prescriptions. It had some relevance, but not the relevancy that it was given. I mean, Dr. Botello physically shuddered when he had to consider the photo of Dr. Eroshevich and Ms. Smith in the bathtub … It really wasn’t an issue in the case. In the case — the forgery case”
After the Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney responded the Court said in part: “I did a little review of the schedule of prescriptions. And I looked at it with the idea of finding what the evidence was as to prescriptions that Howard Stern had allegedly picked up that were prescribed by Eroshevich. And I found in my review, and I think that’s what the evidence supports, that stern picked up prescriptions that Eroshevich had issued for Vickie Marshal. There were a number, maybe eight or nine. I can give you the dates if it’s necessary. That he picked up one prescription for Ambien for Anna smith, and then he picked up on four occasions prescriptions in the name Howard Stern.” Then Judge Perry went on to comment on what good pleadings Carney had written saying: “I thought you were correct in your pleading — of course, I think you do excellent pleading work — in that you thought it was a slightly higher standard for the court on its own motion to dismiss.”
Of course the retrying of the hung charges and that either side could appeal came up.
Judge Perry issued his verbal ruling in a thoughtful and precise way that I believe will hold up under any appeal with a multi-page decision. At the end to this detail explanation Judge Perry stated; “Let me make clear that I am dismissing on my own motion in furtherance of justice counts 1 and 2 (corrected to 3) in this case as to all target crimes finding the evidence insufficient. I think that that needed to be said. All right.”
The only thing left was if the D. A. was going to retry Khristine Eroshevich on the counts that there was a hung jury with the D. A. is to let Judge Perry know in writing and that they had sixty days to file a notice and appeal on Judge Perry’s decision.
I am sure one of you has the charging document, [juries written decisions on all charges], or if not perhaps we can find one. I remember reading it right after the trial in October 2010.
I have been reading and talking to some of you about feeling sorry for Howard K. Stern losing four years of his life here. True, but that said, Stern made a conscious decision to enter into the chaos that appears Anna Nicole Smith’s life which entangled all who came to care for her.
I could whine about the three plus years of my life gone and the fact that 90% of the internet including members of Rose Speaks.com turned against me for not being willing to go to jail. I chose not to because simply there was nothing to hide, and unlike other co-defendants I did not have a robbery or had my hard drive in a bank box. They did not lie about what happened to them, but I did have my emails and hard drives. I simply knew that the truth would prevail that many had great lawyers in this and that I just had to batten down the hatches for however long this storm lasted. I chose to enter the chaos of having a blog that covered “All Things Anna Nicole Smith” so I did throw myself into the peripheral chaos by not closing this site and/or not stopping coverage of this horrible ongoing saga.
Who does my heart ache for and will for a very long time? First two moderators of Rose Speaks.com who did nothing and yet ended up in jail on ridiculous contempt charges. Recordings came out during the discovery that had one “witness” taped by a lawyer in two phone calls about putting Lyndal Harrington in jail, anything to get to me for this person’s own personal vendetta. She was willing to take down Bonnie Stern, Lyndal Harrington and Teresa Stephens if the lawyers promised that I would be brought down. What kind of sick person does that? As I told the lawyer I could only listen to one of the two tape phone calls but that my phone records as well as the time line would prove I never was the “brains” behind robberies, hiding of hard drives and filing a bankruptcy even suggesting that I had that kind of power over others is ludicrous. My prayer is that Karma is a bitch and you know who you are. Hint, it happened in the spring of 2009. So it was NOT QV or Havana or any of the people you might think it was. The complete ability to hate so much that you are willing to sacrifice three people you knew were innocent, to get to someone you just wanted to destroy is unconscionadle. Someone you never met and did nothing to you but try to be a support system during what you said, and now I believe was no more than a made up crises. I don’t think I even want to get in the head of someone like that to see the darkness there.
Besides those two moderators my heart bleeds for Howard K. Stern’s parents, Leon and Bea Stern. They sent their son, the baby of the family, to obtain a top notch education and secured his earning ability only to have him end up with one client. They had nothing to say about the chaos surrounding Anna Nicole Smith flooding into their lives and upon her death to cause what must have been a living hell for them for the next four years. These were just parents, who loved their son and stood by him. Any of us as parents would do the same thing. They had no control over what their lives became and due to their age, I am sure the price emotionally and physically is one none of us can even begin to imagine.
So my tears will be for the two moderators that went to jail and for Howard’s parents, those four people did not deserve to find themselves in the midst of this as none of us should have been entangled. This should have been a simple three hour hearing and court decision where Anna Nicole Smith wanted and intended to be buried not four years of hell.
I will not be saying anything else about anything connected to Anna Nicole Smith except for the Supreme Court hearing and the South Carolina trial; and of course if California is willing to throw more money with what seems to me to be idiocy any Appeal in criminal court they file. I will be updating the download page with all of the paperwork pending before the Supreme Court in the next few days for reference reading for all of you.
Be sure to participate in our COMMUNITY , get the most out of the site by learning your way around in the community where you can discuss things about the cases in a debate area of the site.
January 11, 2011
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