FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The fate of Anna Nicole Smith's corpse was in the hands of a Florida judge on Tuesday, who ordered the former Playboy Playmate's companion Howard K. Stern to come back to court on Wednesday and even did his own grilling of Smith's estranged mother.
Just after a videotape was played for the court showing an enraged, weeping Smith accusing her mother of abuse, her mother, Virgie Arthur, a retired police officer of 28 years, said she shared a close relationship with Smith before she started doing drugs like Valium and other downers around 1995/1996.
"My one regret with my daughter is that I was not able to get her away from drugs," she said.
She also said she raised Smith's late son Daniel from around 1986 until 1992/1993, at which point Smith could afford a nanny to help her care for Daniel while she pursued her career.
Testimony was to resume Wednesday at 9 a.m. EST with Arthur on the stand. Stern was flying home to the Bahamas Tuesday night to be with Smith's 5-month-old daughter Dannielynn, but said "it is very important to carry out Anna's intent so I will be back" on Wednesday.
Stern was battling Arthur for custody of Smith's body. Stern wants to bury Smith beside her son in the Bahamas; Arthur wants to bring her back to her native Texas.
Just before Arthur took the stand, the court was shown footage from "Entertainment Tonight" in which a trembling Smith with Stern by her side says her mother didn't know her or her son and vowed that she would never know her newborn daughter.
She was reacting to claims Arthur made to the media following Daniel's death that Smith and/or Stern had murdered the 20-year-old. A coroner later ruled that Daniel died of a drug overdose.
"For her to go out there and make these ridiculous statements about me killing my son or Howard killing my son — she's just out there making money for herself," Smith told "Entertainment Tonight."
In the TV interview, played in its uncut entirety during the hearing, Smith also refers to the "beatings and whippings and the rape" at the hands of her mother and male members of her family. She said she'd never spoken publicly about the abuse before out of respect to her parents and family, but Arthur had "opened a can of worms" with her accusations.
"That's my mom," Smith said through clenched teeth, wiping her eyes. "I want to say, how dare you, you b—? How dare you? ... I will never speak to her again, ever ... She won't touch my child. She may have touched me, but she won't touch my child."
She said her mother beat her when she was as old as 21, but she had had no relationship with her since she left home in Texas at 15. She did call her when Daniel died, she said, and she "cried for" her at other times — like when her daughter was born. But after her mother went to the press and accused her and Stern of killing her son, Smith said she wanted nothing else to do with her.
Stern's attorneys, who played the interview at the conclusion of their case, rested when it was over, and cross examination by Arthur's lawyers began.
Under cross examination, Stern said he'd begun a sexual relationship with Smith in about 1999 or 2000, he continued to practice law at his own firm — though Smith was his only client since 2002 — and he had no interest in getting any money from Smith's estate for himself.
"I will step down right now, because I do not intend to get one penny," Stern said. "I'm not looking for any money out of it."
He said he believes he is Dannielynn's father "and under the laws of the Bahamas, I am the father" but he had no problem getting a third party to handle Smith's financial affairs. He just wanted the baby to be properly compensated, he said.
"Your Honor, I would ask that somebody manages Anna's estate responsibly," Stern said on the stand. "Aside from the lawsuit, her biggest asset is her name and likeness, and it's somebody who could generate income from that for Dannielynn."
He also said he didn't know where Smith's original will was — he released a copy of it last week, which names him as the executor of her estate — but he assumed it was in her house in California.
"Once Anna passed, I just wanted to get back to my baby in the Bahamas. I didn't go and look at the will," Stern testified.
At another stage, with Stern still on the stand, Broward County Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin called the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Smith, Dr. Joshua Perper, and conducted a conference call with him during the hearing. Stern put his head in his hands during the call, which Perper said Smith's body is decaying and should be made available for viewing by Saturday the latest.
Earlier, Stern said Smith had spoken often about her death since he met her in 1996, but she became increasingly preoccupied with it after her son Daniel died in September.
"She talked about death really from the time I met her," a subdued Stern told the courtroom. "Anna always thought in a way that she was going to die young. She thought she was going to be like Marilyn Monroe, she thought she would die at the age of 36 or 37.
"Then she thought she was going to die when giving birth to Dannielynn," Stern added, referring to Smith's daughter whose paternity is being claimed by Stern, Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead and Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Stern is named father on the girl's birth certificate. A separate judge and court in California is handling the paternity matter, for now at least.
Birkhead was also in court Tuesday, and was expected to testify on behalf of Arthur this week.
In his testimony Tuesday, Stern also said Smith couldn't believe Daniel's life had ended.
"She wanted to go down with Daniel. She wanted to be buried with him," he said.
Stern said he and Smith had had long discussions about where to bury Daniel after he died in September, three days after the birth of Dannielynn. He said Smith wanted to be buried with her son, Stern and her daughter.
Before Daniel's death, Smith had Stern look into various plots in different locations, he said — at one point wanting to be buried near Marilyn Monroe in Westwood, Calif. But plots of land were too expensive there, according to Smith's boyfriend.
After her son passed away, and Smith and Stern against revisited the topic of burial, she ultimately settled on the Bahamas as his final resting place — which is where Daniel was buried. She maintained her wish that she, Stern and her daughter be buried with her son when the time came, according to Stern's testimony.
"The Bahamas were her home," Stern said. "She was very firm on that."
Stern also testified that he and Smith had exchanged vows before a Bahamian Baptist minister in a shipboard commitment ceremony at sea on Sept. 23 of last year. About 15 to 20 people were in attendance, he said.
He said they didn't legally marry at the time because it was right after Daniel's death and though "Anna wanted our marriage to be a legal marriage, I had concerns as to how people would perceive it."
When pressed, Stern explained: "Because her son had passed away ... I didn't want to give any perception that we were trying to hide what we were doing. There were questions by the initial coroner at the time. A coroner early on came out and said the death was under suspicious circumstances."
Stern, who frequently looked close to tears and took sips of water during his testimony, told the judge that he and Smith referred to each other as husband and wife after the commitment ceremony and planned a formal wedding for the upcoming week.
Stern also said Smith and her mother didn't have a good relationship.
"When I first met Anna, she told me she was estranged from her family," he testified. He also said Smith was hurt when her mother went to the media and said her daughter was on drugs in response to footage airing of Smith acting strangely.
Stern also said on the stand that Smith told him her mother went to the media and told reporters that either he or Smith had murdered Daniel, and that had deeply "angered" and hurt Smith.
"Yes, she was depressed, but Anna was very irate," he said, upon questioning from the judge as to Smith's state of mind. "I would like to think Anna was never suicidal. She was distraught, but she was more angry."
Earlier in the day, Stern told the court that Smith "was pretty much my whole world."
"She was my best friend, lover, the mother of my daughter — literally everything to me, my whole world," said Stern, answering questions from his lawyer about the nature of his relationship with Smith.
Stern said he became friends with Smith in 1996 and ultimately became "more than friends" with her around 2000. He added that the relationship was not exclusive and that she had other boyfriends, but that they were consistently intimate throughout. The two kept their romantic relationship private, he said.
Stern said he knew Smith's son Daniel "like a brother" and that Smith was completely devoted to him.
"They were inseparable ... without question he was the most important thing in her life ... everything she was doing she was doing for Daniel," Stern said. "From the day he died, Anna was never the same ... she emotionally died when Daniel died. It was the most difficult thing I've ever seen anybody go through."
Stern also weighed in on Smith's former husband, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, whom she married in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26.
"He was truly the love of her life," Stern said. "He was a very special man to her."
Smith had been fighting Marshall's family over his estimated $500 million fortune since his death in 1995.
Early Tuesday, Smith's lawyer Ron Rale called the entire legal quagmire that's followed Smith's sudden Feb. 8 death a "circus." Seidlin assured him that the circus would stop.
Outside court was just as much of a scene, with a crush of photographers and reporters swarming Stern, Arthur, Birkhead and their lawyers. One photographer even got injured in the mad rush, and wound up with a bloody cut on his head.
Smith's cause of death at age 39 is as yet unknown and under investigation. Toxicology test results are pending to determine why she collapsed in her Hollywood, Fla., hotel room and died a short while later.
FOX News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.