WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A three-judge appeals panel
expressed doubts Wednesday about burying Anna Nicole Smith in
Texas, as her mother wants, but also questioned how the advocate in
charge of funeral plans knew the Playboy model intended to be laid
to rest in the Bahamas. Carver said if the court rules against Arthur, Smith's funeral
would take place Friday in the Bahamas.
The judges ended the hearing without indicating when they would
rule. Two members of the panel, however, said Smith's purchase of
burial plots in the Bahamas suggested a desire to be taken there.
"Why wouldn't that be written evidence?" Judge Mark Polen
asked the attorney for Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur.
Arthur had challenged a circuit judge's decision last week to
give control of Smith's burial to the court-appointed advocate for
Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn. Arthur's lawyer, Roberta
Mandel, argued to the appeals court that the mother is the legal
next of kin.
Appeals Judge Barry Stone asked the advocate's attorney,
Christopher Carver, how his client could figure out what a
5-month-old baby wanted.
"You would need a crystal ball," Stone said.
Carver said the advocate, Richard Milstein, considered Smith's
wishes to be buried in the Bahamas next to her 20-year-old son
Daniel, who died there last year.
"Anna Nicole Smith buried the person she loved most of all in
the Bahamas," Carver said.
Carver said if the court rules against Arthur, Smith's funeral
would take place Friday in the Bahamas. But Mandel has said she
would appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Attorneys for Stern argued in court papers that Arthur was
trying to "place her in death where she never wanted to be in
life" - Texas.
Smith, 39, died in a Florida hotel Feb. 8, but her body has
remained at a medical examiner's office because of the dispute.
Her baby daughter, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, is living in
a gated, waterfront home in the Bahamas, where a judge is hearing
the child custody dispute between Stern and Arthur.
On Tuesday, Arthur saw the little girl for the first time and
left the home in tears.
"She's in mourning having lost her daughter and grandson both
within the last five months," said her attorney, Deborah Rose.
Smith's son died last fall in the Bahamas just a few days after
Dannielynn's birth. Smith and Stern were living in the Bahamas at
the time, and Daniel is buried there.
Rose said Arthur's permission for the visit with Dannielynn did
not come from the court, but she declined to say who had authorized
it. Arthur was in the Bahamas for a hearing Tuesday that Rose
described as a "small technical procedure."
"Our objective is really to assist our client in having access
to her granddaughter and foremost to ensure the best interests and
welfare of the child are secured," Rose said.
The baby's paternity is also in dispute, and another Florida
judge was expected to rule Wednesday on a request for DNA.
Stern is listed on her birth certificate, but two other men also
claim to be the father.
Los Angeles photographer Larry Birkhead,
Smith's ex-boyfriend, wants a Fort Lauderdale court to enforce a
California judge's orders so he can get DNA samples from Smith's
body and the baby. Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of actress Zsa
Zsa Gabor, also says he may be the father.
A medical examiner has yet to determine Smith's cause of death.
Toxicology results could take up to two more weeks.
Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994
when he was 89 and she was 26.
The reality TV star and Playboy
Playmate had been fighting his family over his estimated $500
million fortune since his death in 1995, and her baby daughter
could inherit millions.