Crime & Justice

Jury questioning begins in Anna Nicole Smith case

Jury questioning begins Monday in the drug conspiracy trial of Anna Nicole Smith's doctors and her lawyer-boyfriend, with prospective jurors quizzed on everything from their own medical histories to what they think about the charges.

Superior Court Judge Robert Perry hopes to have a panel seated in two days. Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday.

The judge said questionnaires filled out by prospective jurors show most of them know something about the model's life and death.

"I was a little disappointed with the responses to the question, 'What have you learned about the case?'" he said. "The answers were, 'Only what I saw on TV.'"

Perry indicated more needs to be known before a jury is selected for the trial of Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Howard K. Stern.

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 Smith's 2007 overdose death in Florida.

Perry 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 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 that Smith was a coconspirator 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 coconspirator, 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. Perry also said the 2006 drug overdose death of Smith's son, Daniel Smith, is irrelevant and would not be explored.

© 2010 The Associated Press.