Anna Nicole Smith's infant gets body; burial in Bahamas likely - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Anna Nicole Smith's infant gets body; burial in Bahamas likely

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (AP) -- An emotional Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin ruled the guardian of Anna Nicole Smith's infant daughter should get custody of the model's body to bury her.

Seidlin, however, did indicate what he would want done. "I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas. I want them to be together." Seidlin then paused, apparently overcome by emotion.

Seidlin steered a surprise middle course in the dispute. Smith's estranged mother wanted her buried in her native Texas, while Smith's boyfriend wanted her laid to rest in the Bahamas.

The judge compromised and gave custody to attorney Richard Milstein, the guardian for Smith's 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn.

It wasn't immediately clear what Milstein would do.

Before ruling, Seidlin told the parties in the case, "I feel for you, I absolutely feel for you."

"I've reviewed absolutely everything. I've suffered with this," Seidlin said.

He addressed Smith's mother several times as "mama" and told her and the others he was trying to reach an equitable decision.

"I request that you all stay here and in the next 15 minutes I'm going to be back. I'm going to pronounce the disposition of this case. I hope that when you hear it, you handle it with the respect and dignity Anna Nicole will want."

Smith's ex-boyfriend testified earlier Thursday that he tried to curb the former centerfold's drug use and the judge referred to her longtime companion, Howard K. Stern, as "maybe an enabler."

Seidlin began the sixth day of a hearing to decide the fate of Smith's body with a long diatribe, saying she lacked a strong support system and speculated that her relationships with estranged mother Virgie Arthur and ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead soured because of her overuse of prescription drugs.

"We have Stern. Is he a bad guy or is he a fellow that has some form of a love for her? We don't know," Seidlin said. "Whatever relationship he had with her, he would be called maybe an enabler."

Stern's attorney, Krista Barth, raised an objection, but Seidlin continued in what promised to be a long day of testimony.

The judge set a self-imposed deadline to rule by Friday, so Smith's embalmed body won't decompose too much for a public viewing. Arthur wants to bring Smith home to her native Texas, and attorney-turned-boyfriend Stern wants a burial in the Bahamas, where her son, Daniel, died of apparent drug-related causes last year.

Birkhead testified that when he visited the Bahamas home Smith and Stern shared last year, he became increasingly concerned about her drug use.

"They kept bringing more and more drugs in the house," he said, adding that Stern told him that Smith needed the prescriptions to live.

Birkhead said he suggested she enter drug rehabilitation, but that she told him: "I'm not a drug addict and quit calling me one."

Smith died February 8 in a Florida hotel, but the cause is still unknown.

So far, the testimony has been peppered with details of Smith's sexual liaisons and the deals allegedly being pursued to profit from the deaths of Smith and her son.

On Wednesday Arthur was hammered with questions about any compensation she has or would receive from news organizations for access to interviews or footage after the deaths of her daughter and grandson.

She frequently said no to questions about arrangements with specific media outlets, and sidestepped other questions or claimed she didn't understand them. Stern and Birkhead denied getting paid.

Arthur said her last conversation with her daughter about burial came more than 10 years ago when Smith said she wanted to be interred near her idol Marilyn Monroe, whose body is in a Los Angeles crypt. Birkhead testified he had a similar conversation with her in recent years.

Even Stern has acknowledged the former Playboy model had hoped to be buried near Monroe, though he said she settled on a Bahamian site after her son died and the details of the California plot could not be worked out.

The Florida hearing is just a morsel of the legal battle surrounding Smith. Birkhead and Stern both claim to be the father of Smith's 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn. Stern is listed on her birth certificate. At issue in a California court is who fathered the girl, who could inherit millions of dollars from Smith's estate.

Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. She had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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