Anna Judge About To Rule On Burial

Broward County Circuit Court Judge Larry Seidlin listens to arguments during the hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007. The judge ordered another DNA sample be taken from Anna Nicole Smith's body Thursday. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) AP Photo/Alan Diaz

In a surprise announcement, Judge Larry Seidlin said he would make his final decision on the Anna Nicole Smith burial hearing this afternoon.

"I was concerned about Danny, he's in the ground in the Bahamas. And Nicole wants to be in that ground. I'm trying to figure out how I can, in a spiritual sense, bring it all together," said a visibly moved judge.

He said he would make his final decision at 3:50 p.m.

"I hope that when you hear it you handle though that little Dannielynn will have that respect in the future," he said.

Larry Birkhead, Smith's ex-boyfriend, testified 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."

The judge 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 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, rose in objection, but Seidlin continued in what originally promised to be a long day of testimony.

Anna Nicole Smith: The Latest Photos

Photos: Anna Nicole Smith
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.

Anna Nicole Smith: A Who's Who

"You don't know how many times I had to help her … they kept bringing more and more drugs in the house," he said, adding that Stern told him that Smith needed the prescriptions to live. "I was telling her and I was also telling Mr. Stern that it was a problem."

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

He said that he was aware that the model had a strained relationship with her mother. He said sometimes Smith would curse her mother, but other times she wanted her mother in her life.

2"When she'd see people with other families, she'd say I wish I had my mom," Birkhead said.

The freelancer photographer tried to explain how he saw Stern's relationship with Smith.

"I think that he did and does (love her)," Birkhead said of Stern. "He didn't do the things he could have done to help her."

Smith, 39, died Feb. 8 in a Florida hotel. The cause is still unknown.

The testimony was 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.

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 did not understand them. Stern and Birkhead denied getting paid.

3Arthur 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 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 and she had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.
  • Amy Bonawitz

Comments