Smith to be buried in Bahamas alongside son
EmptyFORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in the Bahamas, alongside her dead son, it was announced Thursday after a tearful judge left the decision up to the attorney for the model's baby daughter.
Richard Milstein, the court-appointed lawyer for 5-month-old Dannielynn, announced the plans not long after a judge gave him control of Smith's final resting place. He gave no timeframe for the burial.
Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin steered a surprise middle course in a dispute that became more urgent by the day when the medical examiner warned that Smith's body was rapidly decomposing.
"Who is entitled to custody of the remains of Anna Nicole Smith?" Seidlin wrote in his ruling. "There can be only one proper and equitable answer to that question: Dannielynn, Anna Nicole Smith's only child, heir and next of kin."
The ruling came a full two weeks after Smith died at a Florida hotel at age 39 of still-undetermined causes.
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, who choked up frequently and sometimes blubbered as he explained his decision, compromised and gave custody to Milstein. And the judge made it abundantly clear what he felt should be done.
"I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas," he said through tears. "I want them to be together."
Smith's boyfriend, attorney Howard K. Stern, had been hunched over a table with his hands folded as he listened to Seidlin's ruling and wiped away tears afterward. Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, covered her eyes.
Outside court, Stern joined Arthur and Smith's ex-boyfriend photographer Larry Birkhead before dozens of reporters, and they pledged to work together on funeral arrangements.
"It's a family affair. You guys can go home," Krista Barth, the attorney for Stern, told reporters.
Smith's mother planned to appeal the judge's order, said one of her attorneys, Tom Pirtle.
Seidlin teared up earlier Thursday when he abruptly cut short the proceedings to say he had made up his mind. In a sometimes rambling statement, he said "I've been trying to figure out, in a spiritual sense, how to bring it all together."
Milstein was appointed by Seidlin last week. He works for the Miami office of the Akerman Senterfitt law firm. He has 30 years of experience and specializes in guardianship, probate and mediation, according to the firm's Web site.
The dispute over the burial was one of many surrounding Smith. Stern is listed as Dannielynn's father on the birth certificate, but Birkhead said the girl was his. A California judge is handling the paternity case.
The judge began Thursday's hearing with a long diatribe, saying Smith's relationships with her mother and Birkhead soured because of overuse of prescription drugs, and referred to Stern as "maybe an enabler."
"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."
Birkhead testified earlier that he attempted to curb the starlet's drug use by urging her to seek treatment. When he visited the Bahamas home Smith and Stern shared last year, he said he became increasingly concerned about her medicine use.
"They kept bringing more and more drugs in the house," Birkhead said, adding that Smith told him she needed the prescriptions to live. When he suggested Smith enter drug rehabilitation, he said she told him: "I'm not a drug addict and quit calling me one."
Testimony in the case has been peppered with details of Smith's sexual liaisons and the deals allegedly being pursued to profit from the deaths of the starlet and her son.
Also Thursday, celebrity news Web site TMZ.com posted a video of Smith hugging and being kissed by a shirtless doctor, who is under investigation by the California state medical board for unspecified possible misconduct related to Smith. In the video from a nightclub, Stern and Birkhead watch as Smith and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor cuddle on a seat.
Messages left for Kapoor's Los Angeles publicist Mark Saylor, on his cell phone and at his office, were not returned. A message was also left for Kapoor's Los Angeles attorney, Ellyn Garofalo.
Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26 and she had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.