Court: Bury Anna Nicole Smith in the Bahamas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/1/07 - West Palm Beach, Florida

Court: Bury Anna Nicole Smith in the Bahamas

A Florida appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for Anna Nicole Smith to be buried next to her son, Daniel, in the Bahamas.

After the panel ruled Wednesday, one of the attorneys for Virgie Arthur, Smith's mother, told CNN there were no plans to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, clearing the way for Smith's burial to take place.

The decision by a panel of three judges with the 4th District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that gave custody of Anna Nicole Smith's remains to the court-appointed guardian for her daughter, Dannielynn.

Last week, Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin awarded custody of Smith's body to Richard Milstein, whom Seidlin had appointed as guardian ad litem for the nearly 6-month-old girl.

Arthur appealed that ruling, because Milstein wants the former Playboy playmate buried in the Bahamas and Arthur wants her daughter buried in Texas with other family members.

Milstein intends to have Smith buried next to her son, Daniel. The late model purchased the adjacent Bahamas burial plot after Daniel, 20, died in September, three days after Dannielynn's birth.

Howard K. Stern, Smith's partner and attorney who claims to be the biological father of Dannielynn, also wishes to have Smith buried in the Bahamas.

Any appeal of the decision by the panel of Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal would go to the Florida Supreme Court.

Christopher Carver, an attorney for Milstein, told the judges during Wednesday's hearing that a Bahamas funeral for Smith is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Joshua Perper, Broward County medical examiner, told reporters Smith's body probably will not be removed Wednesday from his office, where it has been stored during the legal battles, because he has not received a phone call to that effect. He expects embalmers from a funeral home to come to view the body and prepare it for shipping.

Perper said he is prepared to accompany Smith's body to the Bahamas, as Seidlin has asked.

Although he previously had warned that the body was decomposing and burial should be expedited, Perper said Wednesday, "I really hope that the body is in such condition that a second viewing will be possible."

At the center of the appellate court debate Wednesday was which case under Florida law should set the legal precedent to determine who gets custody of the body.

Representatives for Stern and Milstein argued that it is indisputable that Smith's wishes were to be buried with her son because she purchased a burial plot next to him.

But Arthur's attorneys argue that a strict reading of Florida law gives her custody of her daughter's remains. They said there is no written record of Smith's intentions, and when there is no spouse and no child at least 18 years old, custody of the body goes to the next of kin, which in this case is the mother.

Seidlin ruled last week that Dannielynn was to be considered next of kin.

Arthur's attorneys asked Seidlin to stay his original order, but he denied the request Monday. The judge said he is concerned about the deterioration of Smith's body.

Smith, 39, died February 8 at a Florida hotel and casino of undetermined causes. Her daughter was born in the Bahamas, and is living there with Stern. (Watch how publicity has benefited the Bahamas Video)

Also in Broward County, a judge announced Wednesday that doctors hired by Larry Birkhead, one of several men claiming to be Dannielynn's father, can have access to DNA samples from Smith -- which are necessary for paternity tests.

Those samples are in the custody of the Broward County medical examiner.

But Judge Lawrence Korda rejected a request from Birkhead's attorneys asking him to order DNA samples from Dannielynn. Korda said he did not have jurisdiction and that order would have to come from authorities in the Bahamas.

Birkhead filed his paternity suit in California, and Korda consulted with the judge dealing with the case before rendering his decision Wednesday.

The legal battles in the Smith case reach beyond Florida.

  • In Nassau, Bahamas, Birkhead is seeking legal paternity and custody of the child. His attorney, Debra Opri, alleged outside a courthouse Monday that there is "fraud" in the birth certificate, but she didn't elaborate. Arthur also seeks custody. The next hearing is scheduled for March 16.
  • A South Carolina developer says he still owns the home where Stern and Dannielynn are living in the Bahamas. He says Smith never paid him for the house, although she claimed it was a gift. The judge hearing the case allowed Stern and Dannielynn to stay in the house pending a March 14 hearing.
  • Story courtesy of CNN Newsource.

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