BY: Linda Deutsch, AP Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES – The father of Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter has testified that the ex-Playmate “took more medications than I’ve ever seen anyone take,” and that he complained about it to a doctor now charged with conspiring to provide Smith with controlled substances.
However, Larry Birkhead acknowledged the celebrity model had an array of ailments, ranging from back pain to seizures, and each one required specific medication.
A defense lawyer led Birkhead on Friday through descriptions of the illnesses to suggest Smith was being properly medicated by her doctors.
“I was concerned that Anna was taking too many medications,” said Birkhead, a photographer who moved in with Smith in 2004 after a romance that began at a Kentucky Derby party.
He said he raised the drug issue during a visit to Dr. Sandeep Kapoor in mid-2005 about a minor ailment. Kapoor was Smith’s physician at the time.
“At the end of the visit, I said to him she might be taking medicine from someone else in addition to him,” Birkhead testified.
“What did Dr. Kapoor say?” prosecutor Renee Rose asked.
“He said, ‘I believe we have that under control now,’ and that’s all that he said,” Birkhead replied.
Kapoor, Howard K. Stern, Smith’s boyfriend-lawyer and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich are charged with conspiring to illegally provide controlled substances to Smith. All three have pleaded not guilty.
The defendants are not charged with Smith’s death at a Florida hotel in February 2007, which was ruled an accidental overdose.
Birkhead took the stand at a preliminary hearing to determine if the defendants should stand trial. The hearing recessed until Monday with Birkhead still testifying.
During cross-examination by attorney Steve Sadow, who represents Stern, Birkhead provided a rundown of Smith’s physical problems that included back pain from having breast implants, swelling of her hands, restless leg syndrome and intense headaches including migraines.
She was once hospitalized for a dislocated shoulder after falling out of bed and was plagued by pain after that, Birkhead said, adding she also had a miscarriage before he met her.
“It seems I’m missing something,” he said as he recited her ailments. “There were so many of them.”
Birkhead said he witnessed 10 to 20 seizures by Smith, with one coming the night before she was to appear on the American Music Awards. She managed to do the show by taking two anti-seizure drugs and downing three high-energy drinks but consuming nothing else, he said.
Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry asked to view again a video of that appearance to see if Birkhead thought she looked normal or was “loaded on something.”
Birkhead said she was nervous, but most of her behavior was typical of her high-energy public appearances.
Asked to describe his relationship with Stern, Birkhead replied: “Icy.”
“We clashed a lot. He would get into the personal relationship between Anna and me,” Birkhead said. “I don’t think he was happy that I was there.”
After Smith died, Birkhead waged a paternity battle with Stern, who claimed he had fathered the model’s daughter, Dannielynn. Birkhead won the dispute after producing DNA proof that he was the father. The little girl now lives with him.
He said he and Stern, who sat across the courtroom, now work well together on matters involving Smith’s estate. Stern is her executor.
Birkhead said he became aware Smith was taking multiple prescription drugs, including methadone and Valium, after moving into her home in Studio City. Some of the bottles had labels with fictitious names used by Smith, he said.
Birkhead testified that Kapoor’s name was on prescription bottles. The doctor also made house calls to Smith and rode in a limousine with Smith’s entourage at a gay pride parade in 2005.
Birkhead recalled one incident in which Smith stayed in a hospital for 10 days to detox from all the medication. He discovered she had a duffel bag of medicine, including methadone, that she was taking in the hospital.
Birkhead said he saw Stern give her the bag when she asked for it but didn’t see him administer any drugs.
He said Smith told him she could not abruptly discontinue the methadone without risk to her pregnancy. Birkhead said he did research and found she was right.
The judge asked Birkhead if he considered Smith to be “a pill popper.”
“I don’t think I would call her a pill popper,” he said. “But she took more medications than I’ve ever seen anyone take.”
“You never saw anyone force Anna to take medication?” asked the judge.
“I never saw that,” Birkhead replied.
Rose sought to show a video in court of Kapoor socializing with the ex-model at the gay pride parade and a party afterward. The video shows the doctor nuzzling and kissing Smith, Rose said.
Kapoor’s attorney Ellyn Garofalo objected to showing the video, saying it was irrelevant to the case.
After watching the video privately, Judge Perry agreed and it was not shown.
Garofalo previously told The Associated Press that Kapoor is openly gay and never had a sexual or social relationship with Smith beyond that one day.
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