Judge Appoints Lawyer to Advise on Custody of Anna Nicole Smith's Body

A judge appointed a third-party, neutral lawyer to advise the court over what to do with former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith's body.

Broward County Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin appointed an attorney who is a neutral party, called an administrator ad litem, on Thursday to talk to all parties and come back with advice on what should be done. The hearing was set to continue on Friday.

Attorneys from both coasts were battling in a Florida court over who should get custody of Smith's corpse. Smith, 39, died suddenly on Feb. 8.

Smith's companion, Howard K. Stern, and her estranged mother Vergie Arthur were both seeking control of her body. Stern claims he is executor of Smith's will and wants to have her buried next to her son in the Bahamas; Arthur wants her daughter buried in her home state of Texas.

Sources tell FOX News that Smith's corpse could be embalmed as soon as Friday.

"We want to preserve the beauty and model figure [of Smith]," said Seidlin. "Beauty was important to her."

Video: Tempers Flare at Hearing

Seidlin also ruled that a second DNA sample of the former model's body was to be taken on Thursday.

The swab of Smith's cheek was to be done despite the objections of attorneys for Stern and Smith's mother and testimony from the medical examiner and DNA experts that such an additional sample was likely not necessary.

The judge said he wanted to make sure all samples were taken before Smith was buried, so her body wouldn't have to be exhumed.

Lawyers for Smith's ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead wanted a new DNA sample taken as part of his effort to prove he is the father of Smith's 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn.

His attorneys questioned Broward County's medical examiner over the storage of, access to and security guarding of Smith's DNA.

Broward County medical examiner Joshua Perper has warned that Smith's corpse is decomposing and should be released. Her body will remain refrigerated until the judge rules on her release.

The bickering over Smith spiraled into a post-mortem legal war Wednesday, with judges on both coasts issuing rulings and a parade of lawyers fighting for control of the body.

At the end of the day, though, Smith's remains still were at the medical examiner's office, and Seidlin said the dispute could be lengthy.

"We're going to have hearings, as many hearings as we need," Seidlin said at the start of afternoon proceedings. "This is just a warm-up."

Video: Was Anna Nicole Starving Her Baby?

For now, though, the judge said Smith's body would stay where it was.

"This body belongs to me right now," he said. "This body's not leaving Broward County till I make the ruling."

On Wednesday morning, a case filed by Birkhead prompted a brief hearing before Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda in the court's family division. Korda ordered Smith's body temporarily retained by the morgue, following an earlier ruling in California.

But a Los Angeles judge later Wednesday lifted the ruling that body be held.

It appeared the case would become solely under Seidlin's jurisdiction in probate court in Florida.

Stern's filing Wednesday acknowledges that Smith's will makes no mention of where she wanted to be buried, but his attorneys claim he is authorized to make her funeral arrangements.

The petition includes affidavits from Smith's bodyguard, her physician, a neighbor and a friend stating that the one-time reality television star wanted a Bahamas burial with her son.

"It is very clear what she wanted," said Krista Barth, a lawyer for Stern. "I think we all know Anna wants to be next to Daniel, and anything else is a tragedy."

Stern's attorneys provided a transcript of interviews Smith gave to "Entertainment Tonight" in October in which she said Arthur was her birth mother but nothing more.

"You want to hear all the things she did to me? You want to hear all the things she let my father do to me or my brother do to me? Or my sister?" she said, according to the transcript. "All the beatings and the whippin's and the rape? That's my mother. That's my mom."

Arthur's attorney, Stephen Tunstall, did not comment on the specifics alleged in the Stern filing, though he did say the mother had become estranged from Smith over drug use. But he added that none of it made any difference now.

"Since the dawn of civilization, the next of kin has been given the rights and responsibility of their dead," Tunstall said.

As for Birkhead, his attorneys say he simply wants to ensure he gets a DNA sample that has not been tampered with, but they have no interest in the burial.

"We don't care about the body," said one of the lawyers, Susan Brown.

Another potential paternity claimant, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of the actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, has said he had a decade-long affair with Smith and wants a DNA test.

Custody of Dannielynn is being fought, too. A Bahamian judge issued an injunction Tuesday preventing the baby from being taken out of the country until the custody case is resolved.

Arthur wants to be named guardian of her granddaughter and sought the order because she feared Stern would take the child from the Bahamas, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Arthur has said she is concerned about the baby's safety, noting Stern was present when Smith died and when Smith's son Daniel died in September, three days after Dannielynn was born.

"We have evidence showing Howard K. Stern is not a fit parent," Desmar Henfield, one of Arthur's attorneys, told The Associated Press.

Smith was a Playboy Playmate of the Year and 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 fortune since his death in 1995.

Crime Scene

A Bahamian crime scene unit descended Thursday on the oceanfront home shared by Smith and Stern until Smith's death.

Two uniformed police arrived in a patrol car and passed through the gate, followed a short while later by a van marked "crime scene unit." One of the officers then escorted the three men from the van into the home through a side entrance, and declined to answer questions from reporters.

Later, members of the team could be seen taking photos of the property, which is called "Horizons."

It was unknown if Stern was home at the time.

Stern filed a burglary report after claiming that a computer, home videos and other items were taken from the mansion before he returned from Florida, where Smith collapsed and died on Feb. 8.

Reginald Ferguson, assistant commissioner for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, said the officers "must be" investigating a burglary report filed by Stern, but he said he had not been aware that officers had come to the mansion, and had no other information.

Ford Shelley, the son-in-law of a South Carolina developer who claims ownership of the property, said he entered the property a day after Smith's death to "secure" it after he heard that someone had been removing items.

Inside a refrigerator in a bedroom, Shelley said he saw a bottle of methadone — a substance that was found in her son Daniel's system after he died in the Bahamas on Sept. 10. Shelley declined comment on Stern's allegations that he stole personal property while inside the mansion.

As for Thursday's police visit, Shelley said "there was no break-in at that house, so that doesn't affect me at all."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.