After six days of deliberations, the jury in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case went home Tuesday without sending word if they are close to returning verdicts in the complex trial.
The panel is working to reach 21 separate decisions in the case of Smith's lawyer-boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, and Doctors Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich. While the criminal complaint contains 11 charges, each defendant is charged with some but not all of the counts. There are multiple charges against each defendant, and if any one of them is found guilty of a conspiracy count, the jury must answer a list of questions saying what it believes they conspired to do.
Jurors are asked, for instance, to answer true or not true to whether the defendants "conspired to unlawfully prescribe, administer or dispense a controlled substance to an addict."
In addition, they must decide individual charges involving specific drugs and allegations of the use of false names to give Smith medications.
Legal experts say it's not surprising the six women and six men are taking a long time to make their decisions.
"There are multiple defendants, a complicated, lengthy verdict form, complex jury instructions," said attorney Dana Cole, who is not involved in the Smith case. "And if you don't have unanimity on the jury, that could make it all the longer."
He said it is not unusual to have multi-day deliberations in long criminal cases. Testimony and arguments lasted nine weeks.
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., who also has no role in the Smith case, said the jury is probably "very conscientious."
"You have a very serious case where people could go to jail and could lose their licenses," Mesereau said. "The jury knows that. They're probably taking their job very seriously."
The outcome also is expected to reverberate among doctors and pain management patients whose need for drugs is at the heart of California laws under which the defendants are charged.
At the end of Tuesday's session, the jury had been talking for 30 hours.
Prosecutors have accused the three defendants of feeding the former Playboy model's addiction to prescription drugs by excessively providing her with sedatives and opiates. The defense said the three were trying to bring Smith relief from constant pain. The defendants are not charged in her 2007 overdose death.
The jury was to continue deliberating Wednesday.