BY: Linda Deutsch
LOS ANGELES – A psychiatrist who treated Anna Nicole Smith for drug dependency during her pregnancy said she tried to set up a program to wean her off prescription painkillers but found the celebrity model uncooperative and hostile during her stay in the hospital.
Dr. Nathalie Maullin was to continue her testimony today as prosecutors sought to show that the celebrity model was addicted to painkillers supplied by defendants in a drug case.
Maullin took the stand yesterday after a disruption in the testimony of star witness Larry Birkhead resulted in the disappearance from the courtroom of a member of the prosecution team.
District attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the future role of Deputy District Attorney Sarah Slice was under discussion after Birkhead, the father of Smith’s daughter, testified that she tried to influence his testimony. He said the young prosecutor suggested he was “taking the side” of Smith’s former boyfriend, lawyer Howard K. Stern.
Birkhead said Slice also warned him his daughter might have future problems because of her mother’s drug use.
“I felt I personally did my best and I was being chastised,” Birkhead said under questioning by defense attorney Ellyn Garofalo.
Birkhead said Slice told him prosecutors were “frustrated” with his testimony in the preliminary hearing, which will decide whether Stern and two doctors stand trial. They are charged with conspiracy to illegally give controlled substances to the former Playboy Playmate, who died of an accidental overdose in 2007.
When court resumed after lunch, Slice was absent. An after-hours call to her office was not answered.
After the upheaval, Deputy District attorney Renee Rose kept Birkhead on the stand talking about Smith’s drug use and tried to get him to say she was an addict.
He said he thought she took too many medications but that she told him: “I’m not a drug addict.”
Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry asked if he ever had a conversation with Stern in which he used the word “addiction.”
“No,” said the witness.
Rose continued to press Birkhead on multiple issues, including the fact that he made $2 million from TV interviews after Smith’s death, until the judge told her he had heard enough.
“I think you’re done,” he said as she continued to raise new issues.
In her testimony Monday, Maullin described her contact with Smith when she checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in April 2006, pregnant and in apparent withdrawal from pain and anti-anxiety medications. She said Smith had decided to “go cold turkey” and stop all drugs when she became pregnant, resulting in withdrawal.
She said Smith came to the hospital in distress, sweating, having spasms in her arms and legs and with her eyes dilated.
Maullin said she contacted Smith’s physician, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, one of those now charged in the case, and learned he had prescribed seven different drugs to Smith during the time she was seeking relief from pain.
Maullin said she suggested a new regimen including hypnosis and acupuncture but Smith wasn’t interested.
“She wouldn’t engage. She didn’t make eye contact. She was very hostile,” Maullin recalled. “It was, ‘Give me my medication and leave me alone.’”
Maullin said that when Smith was asked questions, she would reply: “Ask Howard.”
She said she told Stern that Smith should be in a structured rehab program and discussed with him and Kapoor her belief that Smith was addicted. Maullin said that during Smith’s hospital stay, she tried to regulate the former model’s use of methadone for pain and remove her from a number of drugs known as benzodiazepans.
Rose suggested that after Smith’s release, Kapoor continued to prescribe one of those medications.
Kapoor’s attorney, Ellyn Garofalo, has said the doctor gave Smith “sound and appropriate” treatment. Attorney Steve Sadow, representing Stern, has said his client shouldn’t be blamed for Smith’s death because he was relying on the doctors to treat her.
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