Pop Culture

Judge leaves Smith decision with baby guardian

The guardian given control of Anna Nicole Smith’s remains plans to bury her in the Bahamas. But Smith’s mother is fighting on.

Richard Milstein, the court-appointed guardian of 5-month-old Dannielynn, announced the plans Thursday not long after a judge gave him control of Smith’s final resting place. He gave no timeframe.

However, Smith’s estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, wants her buried in her native Texas and will file an appeal.

Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin steered a surprise middle course in a dispute that became more urgent by the day when the medical examiner warned that Smith’s body was rapidly decomposing.

“Who is entitled to custody of the remains of Anna Nicole Smith?” Seidlin wrote in his ruling. “There can be only one proper and equitable answer to that question: Dannielynn, Anna Nicole Smith’s only child, heir and next of kin.”

The ruling came a full two weeks after Smith died at a Florida hotel at age 39 of still-undetermined causes.

The judge, who choked up frequently and sometimes blubbered as he explained his decision, compromised and gave custody to Milstein, the guardian for Smith’s 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn. He expressed hope that Smith would be buried alongside her son in the Bahamas.

“I want her to be buried with her son in the Bahamas. I want them to be together,” Seidlin said.

Seidlin teared up earlier Thursday when he abruptly cut short the proceedings to say he had made up his mind. In a sometimes rambling statement, he said “I’ve been trying to figure out, in a spiritual sense, how to bring it all together.”

Milstein works for the Miami office of the Akerman Senterfitt law firm. He has 30 years of experience and specializes in guardianship, probate and mediation, according to the firm’s Web site.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Jessica Rinaldi / X01704

    Celebrity Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia High School year book under the name, Nikki Hart, in Mexia

    Anna Nicole Smith

    The short, tragic life of the former Playboy playmate and model.

  • Celebrity Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia High School year book under the name, Nikki Hart, in Mexia

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Texas teen

    Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia (Texas) High School yearbook under the name Nikki Hart. School officials say Smith went by the name Nikki Hart during her brief tenure there.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Anna Nicole Smith

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    Short, tragic life

    The cover of the June 1993 Playmate of the Year issue of Playboy magazine featured Anna Nicole Smith. Smith, the pneumatic blonde whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale -- jeans model, Playboy centerfold, widow of an octogenarian billionaire, reality-show subject, tragic mother -- died Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, after collapsing at a Hollywood, Fla., hotel. She was 39.

    Playboy / Playboy
  • Smith & Her License Plate

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    She had drive

    Smith holds a Texas license plate that reads "PMOY 93" (Playmate of the Year).

    Time & Life Pictures / Time & Life Pictures
  • ANNA NICOLE SMITHⓡ HOWARD MARSHALL    after his death, anna nicole smith fights

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Happy husband

    Millionaire J. Howard Marshall II made headlines in 1994 when he married Smith. She was 26 and he was 89. He died Aug. 5, 1995, when he was 90. Smith and Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall, battled over Marshall's estate. The boy next to Marshall is Smith's late son, Daniel.

    Sipa Press / Sipa Press
  • NICOLE SMITH

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Daniel's short life

    Smith and her son Daniel, 13, leave a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 1999. His body was found in the Bahamas on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006. A coroner's report ruled the death was caused by an overdose of anti-depressants and methadone.

    AP / AP
  • MARSHALL SMITH STERN

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Fighting for her share

    Smith listens in court in Houston with her attorneys Tom Cunningham and Howard Stern on Monday, Oct. 2, 2000. Sixteen jurors, four of them alternates, were seated to hear the lawsuit where Smith laid claim to a share of the oil fortune of her deceased husband, J. Howard Marshall II. Smith married the Texas oil tycoon in 1994 and he died the following year. Stern later reportedly married Smith and claimed to be the father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern.

    Pool via AP / Pool via AP
  • SMITH

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Back to work

    Smith is surrounded by members of KISS at the conclusion of the Lane Bryant show featuring plus size fashions in New York on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002. The legendary rock band gave a live performance throughout the runway show, which kicked off New York Fashion Week.

    AP / AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

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    Activist

    In this handout image from PETA, Smith poses as Marliyn Monroe for a 2004 ad campaign titled, Gentlemen Prefer Fur Free Blondes. PETA's Michael McGraw said in reaction to Smith's death, "She was a great friend to animals and used every opportunity to speak out against senseless cruelty."

    PETA via AP / PETA via AP
  • NYC: Heatherette - Fall 2004 - Runway

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Hot pink

    Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week in New York on Feb. 12, 2004.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • "G-Phoria - The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles

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    Always outrageous

    Smith feigns a "wardrobe malfunction" before announcing Rikku in "Final Fantasy X-2" as the Hottest Character award winner during "G-Phoria -- The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles on Aug. 1, 2004.

    Corbis / Corbis
  • ANNA NICOLE

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Strange behavior

    Smith waves during an appearance backstage during the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on July 2, 2005. The production company behind the concerts claimed in a lawsuit against Trimspa Inc. that its reputation was damaged by Smith's attire and conduct. Smith, a spokesperson for Trimspa, was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

    AP / AP
  • SMITH STERN

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Wowing the Supremes

    Smith and her lawyer Howard K. Stern leave the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2006. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Smith could continue her claim for part of her late husband's fortune.

    AP / AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith

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    Home sweet home?

    Smith holds her daughter Dannielyn Hope and poses with Stern and "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Mark Steines at the couple's home in the Bahamas on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006. Businessman and former boyfriend G. Ben Thompson threatened to evict Smith from her Bahamas home, claiming she wasn't making the mortgage payments.

    Entertainment Tonight via AP / Entertainment Tonight via AP
  • Anna Nicole Smith watches a boxing match from the ringside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    No sign of trouble

    Smith watched a boxing match from near ringside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2007. She died Feb. 8, 2007.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Virgie Arthur (C) mother of Anna Nichole

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    A mother mourns

    Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, center, and her husband James Arthur, left, embrace as the coffin of Anna Nicole leaves a Bahamas church on March 2, 2007, as the former Playboy model headed to her final resting three weeks after her death. A throng of Bahamians, tourists and media crushed behind police barriers as the pink-laced white coffin was carried into the Mount Horeb Baptist Cathedral in Nassau, Bahamas, for a funeral ceremony closed to all but 300 invited guests.The church was reportedly filled with pink roses, and sources close to the funeral said Smith's body was clad in a gown and tiara.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Locals stand before the grave of Anna Ni

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Laid to rest

    Locals stand before the grave of Smith at the Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Nassau, Bahamas, on March 2, 2007.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Anna Nicole Smith

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    'I told you so!'

    Larry Birkhead rejoices after hearing in a Bahamian court on April 10, 2007, that he has been proven to be the legal father of Smith's baby, Dannielynn. Birkhead later hugged Howard K. Stern, who had been acting as the baby's father.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Larry Berkhead, Dannielynn

    Anna Nicole Smith

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    Derby day with daughter

    Birkhead and Dannielynn feed a pony at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, April 28. 2010. Birkhead, a Louisville native, first met Anna Nicole at a 2004 party around the famous horse race.

    AP / AP

The dispute over the burial was one of many surrounding Smith. Smith's boyfriend, attorney Howard K. Stern, is listed as Dannielynn’s father on the birth certificate, but Smith’s ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, said the girl was his.

A California judge is handling the paternity case, but Birkhead’s attorneys plan to ask a Florida family court judge on Friday to order a sample of Dannielynn’s DNA to be collected in the Bahamas, or require the girl be brought here for DNA testing.

Stern had been hunched over a table with his hands folded as he awaited Seidlin’s ruling. He wiped away tears after the decision. Arthur covered her eyes.

The judge began Thursday’s hearing with a long diatribe, saying Smith’s relationships with her mother and Birkhead soured because of overuse of prescription drugs, and referred to Stern as “maybe an enabler.”

“We have Stern. Is he a bad guy or is he a fellow that has some form of a love for her? We don’t know,” Seidlin said. “Whatever relationship he had with her, he would be called maybe an enabler.”

Birkhead testified earlier that he attempted to curb the starlet’s drug use by urging her to seek treatment. When he visited the Bahamas home Smith and Stern shared last year, he said he became increasingly concerned about her medicine use.

“They kept bringing more and more drugs in the house,” Birkhead said, adding that Smith told him she needed the prescriptions to live. When he suggested Smith enter drug rehabilitation, he said she told him: “I’m not a drug addict and quit calling me one.”

Testimony in the case has been peppered with details of Smith’s sexual liaisons and the deals allegedly being pursued to profit from the deaths of the starlet and her son.

Also Thursday, celebrity news Web site TMZ.com posted a video of Smith hugging and being kissed by a shirtless doctor, who is under investigation by the California state medical board for unspecified possible misconduct related to Smith. In the video from a nightclub, Stern and Birkhead watch as Smith and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor cuddle on a seat.

Messages left for Kapoor’s Los Angeles publicist Mark Saylor, on his cell phone and at his office, were not returned. A message was also left for Kapoor’s Los Angeles attorney, Ellyn Garofalo.

Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26 and she had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.

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