Questionnaires filled out by prospective jurors in the trial of Anna Nicole Smith's doctors and her lawyer-boyfriend show most of them know something about the model's life and death, a judge said.
But how much the prospective jurors know and what they think about the drug conspiracy charges will be probed during jury questioning in open court.
"I was a little disappointed with the responses to the question, 'What have you learned about the case?"' Superior Court Judge Robert Perry said. "The answers were, 'Only what I saw on TV."'
The judge indicated more needs to be discovered before a jury is selected for the trial of Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Howard K. Stern. Jury questioning begins Monday, with Perry hoping to have a panel seated in two days. Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to illegally provide the former Playboy model with massive amounts of opiates and sedatives. They are not charged in the overdose death of Smith in 2007 in Florida.
The judge said he won't allow testimony about the cause of Smith's death because it is not part of the charges.
"Most of the jurors have heard there was an overdose in Ms. Smith's case," he said. "Another case I'm aware of where a celebrity died, a doctor is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death. You don't have that here. "
The reference was to the case of Dr. Conrad Murray, charged in the death of Michael Jackson.
Perry said it was clear the prosecutor would like to try the three defendants on a similar theory, but he said there is no jurisdiction for that in Los Angeles.
"I don't know why it wasn't tried in Florida," the judge said.
The case took a new twist Friday when Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose made the surprise announcement that she will allege Smith was a co-conspirator in the actions that brought the defendants to trial after Smith's death. It was unclear how the claim could affect the case.
The judge said he found the new turn of events "remarkable."
Rose also said she would claim Stern's sister, Bonnie Stern, was another uncharged co-conspirator, helping to arrange deliveries of drugs to Smith in the Bahamas. A phone listing for Bonnie Stern could not be found.
The judge barred several items from evidence including a famous video of Smith in clown makeup which prosecutors said showed she was drugged. He also said the death of Smith's son, Daniel, from a drug overdose is irrelevant and would not be explored.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times