FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Anna Nicole Smith wanted to be buried next to her son in the Bahamas, where she lived, her companion testified Tuesday in the latest round of legal battles surrounding the model’s death.
Smith’s boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, and her estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, were in a Florida court arguing what to do with her remains, while another hearing in California dealt with questions about the paternity of the former centerfold’s infant daughter.
Stern testified Smith was adamant about burying her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, in the Bahamas, where he died just days after Smith’s daughter was born there in September.
“Anna and Daniel were inseparable. Daniel was without question the most important person in Anna’s life,” Stern told Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin.
At Daniel’s funeral, “she said ‘if Daniel has to be buried, I want to be buried with him,’ “ Stern said.
Without written proof of Smith’s own wishes, Seidlin is forced to hear testimony from those who claim to know what Smith wanted.
Arthur wants Smith brought home to her native Texas, insisting that despite their estrangement, she has the right to bury her own daughter, not a man to whom Smith wasn’t even married.
Stern, who was ordered to be in court, testified Smith “was my best friend, lover, the mother of my daughter — everything to me.”
In Los Angeles, Stern’s lawyers also were arguing the paternity issue Tuesday with attorneys for Smith’s ex-companion, Larry Birkhead, who says he fathered the girl. That hearing was closed to the public.
Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, has filed a separate paternity challenge to Stern’s claim.
At the Florida hearing, Seidlin first suggested to lawyers that he needed to know who the father was in order to decide the burial issue.
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Ron Rale, an attorney for Smith who also is representing Stern in his paternity case, said that paternity is irrelevant to the burial question.
“You want to have your cake and eat it,” Seidlin shot back.
But after a brief private conference with all sides, he said he was going to try to answer the burial question without knowing that.
“It would help the court if I knew who the natural father is to speak on behalf of Dannielynn,” Seidlin said. “Right now, the moment’s not right.”
Since Smith’s death Feb. 8 in Florida, the baby has been living with Stern in the Bahamas. The cause of Smith’s death is under investigation. She was 39.
Smith was the widow of Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, whom she married in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. She had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.
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