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Expert Weighs In On Anna Nicole's Death

According to the medical examiner's report, Anna Nicole Smith died after accidentally overdosing on at least nine prescription drugs.

Defense attorney Roy Black says that the findings should put any accusations about foul play to rest.

"I think that the medical examiner's report, the press conference by the police chief, have given Howard (K.) Stern a clean bill of health here," Black told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "The autopsy was a six-hour autopsy — detailed findings. When you take a look at the report, you see that he's clear. They also did a timeline. They did a scene examination. They released a lot of papers. And I think it shows that Howard Stern had no participation in her death."

Smith's last days were difficult ones. She endured stomach flu, a 105-degree fever, pungent sweating and an infection on her buttocks from repeated injections.


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In an autopsy report released Monday, the medical examiner noted the former Playboy Playmate refused to go to a hospital three days before her Feb. 8 death. She chose to ride out her illness in a hotel suite littered with pill bottles, soda cans, SlimFast, nicotine gum and an open box of Tamiflu tablets.

Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper found that in the days leading up to her death, the 39-year-old Smith had been taking large amounts of the seldom-prescribed sedative chloral hydrate, which also contributed to the 1962 overdose death of Smith's idol, Marilyn Monroe.

Dr. Perper said Smith might have been simply unaware that the sedative could be fatal in combination with multiple other prescriptions she was taking in normal doses for anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Contributing factors included her weakened condition from a stomach flu and fever brought on by a pus-filled infection on her buttocks from repeated injection of other drugs.

"She may have taken the dosages she was accustomed to but succumbed because she was already weakened," Dr. Perper said in his report. "Miss Smith has a long history of prescription drug abuse and self-medicated in the past."

Black said there was no evidence of wrong-doing on the part of Smith's doctors.

"Every one of these drugs was in therapeutic amounts," he said. "There was not an overdose of any particular drug. We don't see any evidence of over-prescribing. Nothing that was done that — as far as we can tell — that was certainly criminal or maybe not even civil. So, certainly doctors have been sued for not giving the right advice, prescribing too much of the drugs. But there's no evidence of it here that we've been able to see."

Black said that should Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, decide to sue Smith's doctors, she wouldn't have a strong case.

"Virgie Arthur and her lawyer have made all kinds of accusations, particularly against Howard Stern," Black said. "They're accusing him of murder. Even last night, her lawyer was on television accusing him of murder, even in the face of this report. If I was them, I'd be worried about being sued for slander, myself."

An important question still remains unanswered: Who is the biological father of Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn? The next step, Black said, is dealing with the findings of the DNA test which should come out next month.

"That should end that matter," Black said. "Because clearly any court is going to give the child to whoever the biological father is. They already know the results. They have not released them yet. But clearly that's the only logical and intelligent result of that proceeding."

Black also thinks that Arthur has little chance of getting custody of Dannielynn because the biological father would have to be proved to be incompetent or that living with the father would not be in the best interest of the child. Even then, Black said it is unlikely that Arthur would get custody.

"I don't even think she would qualify to be the custodian because she certainly didn't do a great job with Anna Nicole," Black said.

In the Bahamas, an inquest into the death of Smith's son, Daniel, is scheduled — more than six months after he passed away.

"Well, it's important under the — you know, the Bahamas is under the English system. They have inquests," Black said. "They'll have seven Bahamian citizens listen to weeks of testimony to determine if Daniel died of an accidental overdose or if it was homicide or some other cause. The evidence we've seen certainly points to an accident as well."