By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California judge on Friday ordered the boyfriend and two doctors of former Playboy model and actress Anna Nicole Smith to stand trial on charges of fueling her addiction to prescription drugs.
Smith, whose life as a fashion model, television star and young wife of an elderly oil billionaire was fodder for tabloids and celebrity magazines, died from a prescription drug overdose in February 2007 at age 39.
Her longtime boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, is charged with 11 felony counts, including dispensing a controlled substance to an addict and obtaining a prescription for opiates by deceit.
Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor each face six felony counts, including unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance to an addict.
All three face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Stern, Eroshevich and Kapoor have pleaded not guilty. Each faces more than five years in prison if convicted.
The famously buxom and blond Smith died in Hollywood, Florida, shortly after the birth of her daughter and the death of her adult son, also from a drug overdose.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry's decision on Friday to order Stern, Eroshevich and Kapoor to stand trial follows more than two weeks of often lurid testimony.
Nadine Alexie, a nanny who worked for Smith, told investigators the model slept for three days on some occasions when she took medication and that when Smith finally arose there would be vomit and feces in her bed.
Alexie's statements to investigators were read in court at a hearing on Thursday.
Earlier this week, a doctor hired by California authorities to review Smith's treatment, testified that Kapoor prescribed large amounts of the painkiller Dilaudid to her, after the model fractured two ribs in 2004.
One expert witness, Dr. James Gagne, testified that six medications requested for Smith by Eroshevich, a psychiatrist, in a 2006 letter to Kapoor was a "list of the drugs that are the most highly prized by addicts."
Outside court, Stern's lead attorney Steve Sadow told reporters his defense was simply that Stern is innocent. He earlier told the judge that Stern was being charged with "doctor-related activities" even though he is not a doctor.
Eroshevich told reporters: "I understand that I have to go through this process."
In court, Eroshevich's attorney argued she was well-intentioned in her care for Smith and never knew the model-actress had undergone treatment for addiction.
Smith was a Guess jeans model who gained fame by marrying 89-year-old billionaire oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall. After Marshall's 1995 death, Smith was embroiled in an inheritance dispute with his son that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Editing by Xavier Briand)