LOS ANGELES – The judge in Anna Nicole Smith’s drug conspiracy trial told jurors Wednesday to disregard part of a former nanny’s testimony because he did not consider it reliable.
Quethelie Alexie gave one account of an incident between the celebrity model and her lawyer-boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, during a preview to Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, but told jurors a different version.
Stern, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor have pleaded not guilty to drug conspiracy charges, including providing excessive opiates and sedatives to an addict. They are not accused of causing Smith’s death.
Alexie, who worked for the model in the Bahamas during the final months of her life, described how a weeping Smith drank a bottle of medicine and fell into a two-day slumber from which Stern could not arouse her. The former nanny said she thought the medicine was from Eroshevich.
Prosecutors have said it was chloral hydrate, a powerful sleeping potion that was implicated in Smith’s drug overdose death.
During a preview with the judge but outside the jury’s presence, Alexie described Stern as distraught about Smith’s unresponsive condition after taking the medicine.
She said Stern “began to cry. He was holding her, shaking her, saying, ‘What are you doing. Do you want me to go to jail?’” Alexie told Deputy District Attorney Renee Rose that “he kept saying, ‘Anna, Anna, get up. Do you want me to go to jail? Do you want to die?’”
After the preview, the judge said he would allow the testimony as admissible evidence and ordered the jury to return. But in retelling the account to jurors, Alexie instead said she suggested that Smith be taken to a hospital and that Stern refused, saying the model would be OK.
When Rose asked her to recall Stern’s words, Alexie told jurors: “What he said was (Anna Nicole)’s trying to make him go to jail.”
At that point, the judge stopped Alexie’s testimony, saying it was “inconsistent with what we heard… I do not have confidence that it’s reliable. I’m striking it all.”
Alexie also said that she had been concerned for her safety as a witness. The comment came a day after defense attorneys complained about prosecutors’ treatment of Alexie and her sister-in-law Nadine, both of whom were Smith’s nannies and trial witnesses. Prosecutors acknowledged that they brought the two women and their families to Los Angeles and that they had paid for the rent of new apartments and moving expenses.
Alexie said under cross-examination that the two women were promised the benefits when they return to the Bahamas. She said they agreed to testify only if their families could come along.
Alexie, a native of Haiti, is not a citizen of the Bahamas and had to be guaranteed through the government that she could return there after she testifies.
“My life is going to be in trouble now,” she said glumly.
Court was recessed until Friday.