Howard K. Stern Pleads Not Guilty in Anna Nicole Smith Case

UPDATED 05/13/2009 at 02:15 PM EDT Originally published 05/13/2009 at 01:20 PM EDT

Howard K. Stern Pleads Not Guilty in Anna Nicole Smith Case
Howard K. Stern
Olivier Douliery/ABACA
Three of those in Anna Nicole Smith's most-trusted circle pleaded not guilty Wednesday to conspiring to provide the drugs that killed her in 2007.

Howard K. Stern, 40, the Playboy model's lawyer-boyfriend, her physician Sandeep Kapoor, 40, and Smith's neighbor and psychiatrist Kristine Eroshevich, 61, entered the pleas before Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau, who ordered the three back on June 8 to set a summer date for a preliminary hearing.

Attorneys estimate the preliminary hearing will last at least two weeks. If prosecutors convince the judge that the case should go to trial, defense attorneys say they will ask for a hearing on a filed motion that argues for the case to be thrown out.

Prosecutors claim that the trio conspired to use fake names to prescribe vast amounts of potent drugs to an addict. These include methadone, clonazepam and chloral hydrate.

Steve Sadow, Stern's main attorney, told reporters outside the court that it's only appropriate to charge licensed physicians with the felonies filed against Stern.

Charge Fly Back and Forth

"The statute doesn't apply to him and we reserve the right to argue that later," said Sadow. "We're hoping that at the preliminary hearing, the case will be thrown out and justice will be served."

The charges were filed in March after a two-year investigation by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who characterized Stern as Smith's principal enabler. Brown said the three epitomize society's reckless handling of toxic prescription drugs.

Sadow counters that Brown manufactured the 11 felony charges because he wants to be governor again. "I'll debate him any time, any place,” Sadow said.

Sadow has previously said that Smith was "intelligent, strong and street smart," and "no one told her what to do and when to do it. No one enabled Anna Nicole Smith. She was her own person."

'Didn't Do That'

During the brief press conference, one reporter repeatedly asked if it was okay that Stern stood by while Smith did drugs. Sadow responded that Stern "did not commit any criminal act – period. You can ask me all day long if Howard K. Stern did that, and my response will be that he didn't do that."

Attorney Ellyn Garofalo told PEOPLE Wednesday that her client, Kapoor, "is still practicing, his patients has been supportive, and Mr. Kapoor appreciates their support."

Attorney Adam Braun has previously said that his client, Eroshevich, treated Smith (who lived in the Bahamas) for "acute physical and psychological ailments, complicated by the fact that she didn't want to return to the United States or be hospitalized." He said that Eroshevich cared for Smith "with the best interests of the patient in mind."

The charges prompted Florida investigators to reopen their probe into Smith's death on Feb. 8, 2007 in Hollywood, Fla., at age 39.

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