LOS ANGELES (CN) - Anna Nicole Smith's former attorney Howard K. Stern faces a new trial on charges of causing the reality show star's overdose, the California Supreme Court ruled.
After the former Playboy model born Vicki Lynn Marshall died of an accidental overdose in a Florida hotel room on Feb. 8, 2007, it emerged that Stern held the prescription for the a cocktail of medications passed on to the model.
Prosecutors brought conspiracy charges against Smith's psychiatrist, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, and Stern, who, in addition to acting as Smith's attorney and manager, also co-starred with her on the "The Anna Nicole Show."
Though Stern was convicted in 2010 of using false names in prescriptions and obtaining controlled substances by fraud, Superior Court Judge Robert Perry ruled after trial that Stern did not deliberately commit a crime and had prescribed drugs under fake names to protect Smith's privacy. The judge found that there was not enough evidence to convict Stern on the conspiracy charges.
Perry granted Stern a new trial and dismissed the two counts against him, but an appellate panel found in 2012 that retrying Stern could raise double-jeopardy concerns.
The California Supreme Court disagreed Monday, saying the appellate panel had misinterpreted double-jeopardy rules.
Retrial would be barred only if prosecutors did not appeal or the appeals court had affirmed the trial court, according to the ruling.
"We conclude that the court of appeal erred when it ordered that double jeopardy precluded defendant from being retried and hold that, if the trial court grants defendant a new trial on any of his remaining claims, he may be retried," Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the unanimous court.
Stern was charged on 11 counts, convicted on two counts of conspiracy and acquitted on the remaining nine claims.
The trial judge will decide Stern's retrial fate.
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