A judge told jurors in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case Wednesday they should not hesitate to declare a deadlock if they can't agree on some or all of the charges.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry made the remarks after jurors indicated in written notes they were struggling to reach some verdicts against the former Playboy model's two doctors and her boyfriend-lawyer.
"If you can't reach a verdict, you can't reach a verdict," Perry told the panel. "We declare a hung jury on that count."
Defendants Howard K. Stern and Drs. Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich were in the courtroom when the jury received the instructions.
After the panel was dismissed for lunch, Eroshevich burst into tears and was comforted by Stern. Her attorney Brad Brunon said she was reacting to the stress of waiting for the verdicts.
Perry also told the six women and six men in their third week of deliberations that it was a tough case, and he invited them to ask for readback of testimony and for additional legal instructions, if needed.
The jury called it a day after spending five more hours in talks. They have deliberated for 56 hours over 12 days and were to resume talks on Thursday.
The jury asked earlier in the day what they should do if unable to reach a verdict on "a count or an object crime."
They also asked whether it would be correct to conclude that if prescriptions to Smith were written in excessive amounts, "Does it follow that the prescriptions also have no legitimate medical purpose?"
After conferring with lawyers, the judge told them, "The answer to that is no."
Stern, Kapoor and Eroshevich have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to provide Smith with excessive amounts of prescription drugs and other charges. They are not charged in her 2007 overdose death.
The defense has claimed all the drugs were prescribed to alleviate Smith's chronic pain and illnesses.