BY: Linda Deutsch, AP Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES – An anguished bodyguard, saying he had to tell what he knew about Anna Nicole Smith’s death “or I’m going to die,” testified yesterday that he saw her boyfriend-lawyer Howard K. Stern inject her with a sedative at a time before her death when she was begging for something to help her sleep.
Maurice Brighthaupt said he had seen Stern inject Smith with medications four or five times in Florida and the Bahamas, and also watched the celebrity model’s psychiatrist, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, inject her once but did not specify the drug. He said he also saw Smith inject herself twice.
Brighthaupt’s testimony came during a preliminary hearing to determine if Stern, Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor will stand trial for conspiring to illegally provide Smith with controlled substances,
All three have pleaded not guilty. The defendants are not charged with Smith’s death at a Florida hotel in 2007, which was ruled an accidental overdose.
Outside court, Stern’s lawyer Steve Sadow said he would prove in cross-examination Thursday that the guard had reason to testify falsely.
He said Brighthaupt was part of a bitter struggle over Smith’s estate but didn’t elaborate on ways he might cast Brighthaupt’s testimony into doubt.
“I can say that prescription medications were never injected by Howard K. Stern into Anna Nicole Smith,” Sadow said. He said Smith was known to get B-12 injections.
The hearing ended for the day without testimony from Larry Birkhead, who proved through DNA testing he was the father of Smith’s daughter. The proceedings were set to resume Thursday.
Brighthaupt said Eroshevich brought Smith a bottle of chloral hydrate when she flew to the Bahamas from Los Angeles after Smith’s son died in 2006. The sleep syrup was cited in Smith’s autopsy as a principle cause of her overdose death in combination with other drugs.
The witness said he saw Eroshevich deliver a small bottle of the liquid medication which Smith took by spoon at first but then it was “straight bottle to the mouth, a gulp.”
He said Eroshevich told him: “Anna had a hard time sleeping. She was reluctant to do it, but Anna had to sleep to feel better … Anna was begging for it to help her sleep.”
Brighthaupt also testified he had seen Smith change from someone who was “loving life, very playful, loving and caring” to a mother in mourning who could not accept the death of her 20-year-old son Daniel.
The hulking bodyguard said he felt badly about testifying against Eroshevich, who is his friend.
“I consider her a very kind person who wouldn’t do anything bad to anybody,” he said as Eroshevich sat facing him at the counsel table.
But he added, “This whole situation – I just have to say something and get it out of me or I’m going to die.”
He said he and Stern do not have a warm relationship.
“We’ve had our differences. Sometimes you think you know somebody and you don’t,” he said. “We have disagreements … I don’t wish him no harm.”
Brighthaupt, who tried to revive Smith on the day she died, was widely interviewed after Smith was rushed from the hotel to a hospital and pronounced dead on Feb. 8, 2007.
Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose, the bodyguard told of a scene in Smith’s suite where he entered the bathroom and saw Stern heating a spoon over a lighter, liquifying valium pills and preparing to inject the substance into Smith.
“She couldn’t swallow. They felt it would get into her system faster,” he said. “He drew it up into the syringe and he asked me to leave. He didn’t want me to see her without her clothes on.”
The bodyguard was not specific about the timing of the shot and only said it was administered sometime during the stay in Florida.
Brighthaupt said he saw Stern inject Smith about four times while they were living in the Bahamas.
“I saw Khris do it only once,” he said, describing how Smith held a towel around her, exposing her buttock for the shot. He did not specify when the shot was given.
Brighthaupt, a firefighter and paramedic in Miami, said he met Smith in 2003 and quickly became her “right hand person as far as security.” He said they had a brother and sister-like relationship, and she called him “My Mo-Mo.”
He traveled with her and said he remembered her taking pills. Before appearing on the American Music Awards in 2004, she took the drug Ecstacy and drank her favorite champagne before going on stage, he said.
On Tuesday, Stern’s attorney Sadow said Smith had taken an anti-seizure medication before the show, explaining her slurred words.
After Daniel’s death in 2006, Brighthaupt said he rushed to the Bahamas and found Smith in distress. She had just given birth to her daughter, Dannielynn.
“She looked very sick, out of it. Very sad, eyes puffy,” he said.
Smith sank deep into depression and began her search for drugs whether through pills or injection that would help her sleep, Brighthaupt testified.
“I saw Anna give herself one (shot) in front of me when she asked me to do it. I said no,” he testified.
Earlier in the day, a toxicologist who investigated Smith’s death testified that Smith’s poor health in her final weeks may have complicated her reaction to drugs.
Dr. Harold Schueler, chief toxicologist for the coroner’s office of Broward County, Fla., said Smith was suffering from a bacterial infection before she died.
Associated Press Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this story.
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