Published March 31, 2008
NASSAU, Bahamas – A Bahamas jury ruled Monday that Anna Nicole Smith's son died from an accidental drug overdose, just like his mother.
The seven-member jury, which deliberated for less than two hours, recommended no criminal charges in the September 2006 death of 20-year-old Daniel Smith.
The son of the former Playboy playmate died after coming to the Bahamas to meet his new baby sister on Sept. 10, 2006. His mother died early the next year in Florida from an accidental drug overdose at age 39.
Police had said there was no evidence of homicide, and autopsies found that Daniel died from a combination of drugs, including methadone and antidepressants. But Bahamian authorities ordered the inquest amid widespread speculation over the circumstances surrounding his death.
In its ruling, the jury said the cause of death was "nondependent use of drugs," meaning that Daniel Smith was not addicted and was not aware the drugs in his system would kill him.
Neil McCabe, an attorney for Anna Nicole's mother, Virgie Arthur, said she was disappointed in the ruling because she suspected foul play was involved. Arthur has claimed previously that Anna Nicole's boyfriend and attorney Howard K. Stern played a role in both deaths, but she did not provide evidence.
"We don't think it makes any sense," McCabe said. "The boy was not a drug user, the judge said so. Why would he all of a sudden take a massive dose of methadone?"
Stern, who has denied giving Daniel any drugs, said outside court that he was not sure whether the jury's decision would bring an end to the case.
"I have no control over them," he said of Arthur and her attorneys.
Magistrate William Campbell said the jury's decision ended the case as far the courts in the Bahamas were concerned.
The inquest began in November and heard from more than two dozen witnesses
Anna Nicole's former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, testified that Daniel was a troubled young man who struggled with drugs and alcohol. But Stern said he was surprised at the autopsy report and said he had never seen Daniel using drugs.
Stern, who came to the Bahamas with Anna Nicole during her pregnancy in 2006, initially claimed he was the father of her infant daughter, Dannielynn, He gave up custody last spring after DNA tests proved Birkhead was the father.
Dannielynn has been named the sole heir of her late mother's estate, with Birkhead and Stern as co-trustees. Dannielynn could inherit millions of dollars if the estate wins an ongoing court fight over the oil fortune of Anna Nicole's late second husband, J. Howard Marshall.