Anna Nicole Smith's body in morgue amid court fight
Moldova.ORG -- The bickering over Anna Nicole Smith spiraled into a post-mortem legal war Wednesday, with judges on both coasts issuing rulings and a parade of lawyers fighting for control of the body, relates BBC.
At the end of the day, though, Smith's remains still were at the medical examiner's office, and a judge here said the dispute could be lengthy.
"We're going to have hearings, as many hearings as we need," Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin said at the start of afternoon proceedings. "This is just a warm-up."
At least three people are seeking control of Smith's body - her longtime companion Howard K. Stern; her estranged mother, Vergie Arthur; and photographer Larry Birkhead, who claims to have fathered the model's 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn.
Stern claims he is executor of Smith's will and wants to have her buried next to her son in the Bahamas; Arthur wants her daughter buried in her home state of Texas; and Birkhead simply wants to prove he is the father of Dannielynn, who potentially could inherit millions.
For now, though, the judge said Smith's body would stay until he makes a ruling.
"This body belongs to me right now," he said.
Stern's attorneys claim he is authorized to make her funeral arrangements. The petition includes affidavits from Smith's bodyguard, her physician, a neighbor and a friend stating that she wanted a Bahamas burial with her son.
"I think we all know Anna wants to be next to Daniel, and anything else is a tragedy," said Krista Barth, a lawyer for Stern.
Stern's attorneys provided a transcript of interviews Smith gave to "Entertainment Tonight" in October in which she said Arthur was her birth mother but nothing more.
"You want to hear all the things she did to me? You want to hear all the things she let my father do to me or my brother do to me? Or my sister?" she said, according to the transcript. "All the beatings and the whippin's and the rape? That's my mother. That's my mom."
Arthur's attorney, Stephen Tunstall, said the mother had become estranged from Smith over drug use. None of it made any difference now, he said.
"Since the dawn of civilization, the next of kin has been given the rights and responsibility of their dead," Tunstall said.
Broward County medical examiner Joshua Perper warned that Smith's corpse is decomposing and should be released. Her body will remain refrigerated until the judge rules.