- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Anna Nicole Smith’s estranged mother tearfully acknowledged yesterday that her daughter last told her that she wanted to be buried in California near her idol Marilyn Monroe — an admission that could hurt the woman’s fight to have Mrs. Smith laid to rest in her native Texas.

Virgie Arthur, 55, said her last conversation with her daughter about her burial came more than 10 years ago.

“Wherever the stars are buried, that’s where she wanted to be buried,” Mrs. Arthur said.

Mrs. Arthur and Howard K. Stern, the lawyer and Mrs. Smith’s boyfriend, are in a legal dispute over the burial arrangements.

Mr. Stern wants to bury the former Playboy centerfold in the Bahamas with her son, Daniel, 20, who died in September of apparent drug-related causes.

Mrs. Arthur said she thought any mother would want to be buried with her children. She said she wants to exhume the son and rebury him in Texas.

Mrs. Smith, 39, died Feb. 8 in a Florida hotel of unknown causes.

The Florida hearing is just one part of the legal battle surrounding Mrs. Smith. In California, a judge is trying to determine who fathered Mrs. Smith’s 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, who could inherit millions, depending on how Mrs. Smith’s estate is divided.

Mr. Stern is listed as the father on the birth certificate, but photographer Larry Birkhead, who once dated Mrs. Smith, says the girl is his.

On the stand in Fort Lauderdale, Mrs. Arthur was hammered with questions about any compensation she has or would receive from news organizations for access to interviews or footage after the deaths of her daughter and grandson.

She frequently rejected questions about arrangements with specific press outlets and sidestepped others or said she didn’t understand them.

“Have you in any fashion profited at all from the death of your daughter?” asked Krista Barth, an attorney for Mr. Stern.

Mrs. Arthur stared for a moment.

“I’m trying to process that question,” she said. Then Mrs. Arthur attempted to deflect the attention, pointing at Mr. Stern.

“He has,” she said.

It was a refrain that Mrs. Arthur repeated several times in an attempt to raise suspicions about Mr. Stern and the unsolved deaths of her daughter and grandson.

“I knew she would be next. My grandson did not overdose. Howard was there when he died, and Howard was there when my daughter died. And he has my granddaughter now, and it is not even his child. I’m afraid for her life as well,” Mrs. Arthur said, crying. “Please, help us.”

Mr. Stern shook his head. Earlier in Mrs. Arthur’s testimony, he angrily rose from his seat, but the judge interrupted him before he could complete a sentence.

“You have no podium here, Mr. Stern,” the judge said. “Appreciate you being here, though.”

Mr. Stern and Mrs. Arthur were brought to the morgue to have a viewing of Mrs. Smith’s body during the court’s lunchtime break.

Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin promised a ruling in the case by tomorrow.

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