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Larry Birkhead says he was told that Anna Nicole Smith's drug use was 'under control'

The father of her daughter testifies that he told her internist about his concerns that the model was addicted to painkillers two years before she died from an overdose of prescription medication.

October 17, 2009|Harriet Ryan

The father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter testified Friday that a physician told him the model's drug use was "under control" two years before her death from an overdose of prescription medication.

Larry Birkhead said he believed the Playboy playmate was addicted to methadone and other painkillers, and told her internist, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, in a 2005 conversation that he feared she might be obtaining additional pills from other sources.

Kapoor said, " 'I believe we have that under control now,' " Birkhead told a judge presiding over a preliminary hearing to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to charge Kapoor and two others with conspiracy to illegally furnish prescription medication to Smith. Kapoor, psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich and the model's companion, Howard K. Stern, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Birkhead, a photographer who met Smith at the Kentucky Derby in 2003, said his worries about Smith's drug use increased when she became pregnant with the couple's daughter, Dannielynn, now 3.

Smith was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center under a pseudonym, Jane Brown, for what she told him was drug detox four months into her pregnancy, Birkhead testified.

He said she complained that the amount of methadone doctors were giving her was inadequate and began supplementing the intravenous drip with a bottle of methadone smuggled into the hospital. "I was totally uncomfortable with it," Birkhead said. "I felt like it was defeating the purpose."

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry asked Birkhead if he had ever seen anyone force Smith to take drugs. "No," he replied.

"She was a pill popper, just popping pills all the time?" the judge asked.

Birkhead said he objected to the term "pill popper," but allowed, "She took more medication than I'd ever seen anyone take."

His testimony is set to continue Monday.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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