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Anna Nicole Smith relied on rare sleep aid, former bodyguard says

Testifying at a hearing to determine whether her longtime companion and two attorneys should face charges, he says she began drinking a powerful sedative after her son's death.

October 15, 2009|Harriet Ryan

Anna Nicole Smith consumed increasing amounts of a rare sleep aid in the months after her son's death, eventually drinking the powerful liquid sedative straight from the medicine bottle, her former bodyguard testified Wednesday.

The drug, chloral hydrate, was cited as the primary cause of Smith's fatal overdose the following year and her bodyguard said the model often carried a bottle of the drug as she grieved for her son.

"I saw her use a spoon maybe twice and after that it was bottle to mouth -- gulp," said Maurice Brighthaupt, a Miami firefighter who moonlighted as Smith's security guard.

Brighthaupt took the stand at a hearing that will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to try Smith's longtime companion, Howard K. Stern, and two Los Angeles physicians on charges of conspiring to furnish her with illegal prescription medications. All three have pleaded not guilty.

One of the doctors, Studio City psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich, prescribed the chloral hydrate to Smith after her son Daniel's 2005 death, and Brighthaupt testified that on one occasion that year the doctor personally delivered the drug to Smith in the Bahamas.

When he drove the doctor from the airport to the model's house, he said, Eroshevich said she was "reluctant" to give the medication.

But "Anna was begging for it and she really needed it," he quoted the physician as saying.

Stern, a lawyer who became Smith's advisor and then her lover, knew about her use of chloral hydrate and would pass her the bottle when she asked for it, Brighthaupt testified.

Brighthaupt said he saw Stern inject Smith with other medications "more than seven times" and recounted one occasion when he encountered Stern in a bathroom using a cigarette lighter and a spoon to melt Valium into an injectable form.

"They felt it would get in her system faster," he said.

Brighthaupt, a towering, muscular man, seemed hesitant answering questions from the prosecution and said he was uncomfortable testifying against Eroshevich, whom he described as a devoted friend to Smith.

"I consider her a very kind and nice person who wouldn't do anything to anybody," Brighthaupt said.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry voiced repeated frustration with the pace of the preliminary hearing, now in its second day, and urged prosecutors to move quickly through evidence about Smith's death and focus on evidence related to illegal prescribing and other charges against the defendants.

When a prosecutor asked a toxicologist to testify about the hypothetical effect of hundreds of pills prescribed to Smith 10 days before her death, the judge interrupted with a question that seemed to get at a central issue in the case.

"Whose fault is it that somebody takes too many pills?" the judge asked.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Renee Rose replied that the defendants were "fully aware" that Smith was an addict who could not control herself around drugs.

"It's like putting a gun in the hand of someone who is suicidal and saying don't pull the trigger," Rose said.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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