Published September 13, 2006
NASSAU, Bahamas – The death of Anna Nicole Smith's 20-year-old son was termed "suspicious" Wednesday by the coroner's office, which scheduled a formal inquiry that could lead to criminal charges.
Authorities said at least one other person was in the hospital room when Daniel Wayne Smith died Sunday while visiting his mother, a reality TV star and former Playboy playmate, three days after she gave birth to a baby girl.
The person was not a member of the hospital staff, Reginald Ferguson, assistant commissioner of the Royal Bahamian Police Force, told The Associated Press. He refused to reveal the person's identity, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation.
Her Majesty's Coroner Linda P. Virgill scheduled the inquest for the week of Oct. 23, saying it "is the right course of action." If jurors at the inquest decide a crime took place, the case would be sent to the attorney general's office, authorities said.
"Whenever there is a suspicious death we would have an inquest to determine how the person died," Bradley Neely, chief inspector of the coroner's office, told AP Television News.
Virgill said the autopsy and toxicology reports will not released until the inquest, which will be open to the public.
"It would not be fair to the Bahamian public simply because we need to take our jurors from that pool and you do not wish to contaminate them," she told reporters.
If jurors at the inquest decide a crime took place, the case will then be sent to the attorney general's office, authorities said.
Virgill said authorities believe they know what killed Smith. She said there was no sign of physical injury to Smith.
"I can confirm that there was definitely a third person in the room at the time of death and I do know who that person is," Virgill said. "But I am unwilling to reveal that information at this time for various reasons."
Michael Scott, a Bahamian attorney for Anna Nicole Smith, dismissed media reports that her son had antidepressants or other drugs in his system.
"It's sheer speculation. It's irresponsible speculation, may I point out," he told reporters.
Scott said Anna Nicole Smith was in seclusion in the Bahamas with family and friends "as you would expect any parent who sustained this kind of loss."
Police were reconstructing Smith's steps since his arrival Saturday in the Bahamas, Ferguson said.
Ferguson told the AP that no drug paraphernalia or traces of illegal drugs were found on Daniel Smith, in the hospital room or near the room.
Police believe Smith went directly to Doctors Hospital in Nassau, where his mother was, after flying in to the Bahamas, Ferguson said.
Daniel Smith was the son of Anna Nicole and Bill Smith, who married in 1985 and divorced two years later. The son had small roles in her movies "Skyscraper" and "To the Limit." He also appeared several times on the E! reality series "The Anna Nicole Show."
Anna Nicole Smith married Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II in 1994, when she was 26 and he was 89. He died the following year.
She then feuded with Marshall's son, Pierce Marshall, over her entitlement to the tycoon's estate before he died in June at age 67.
Smith won a $474 million judgment, which was cut to about $89 million, and eventually reduced to zero. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Smith could continue to pursue her claim in federal courts in California, despite a Texas state court ruling that Marshall's youngest son was the sole heir.