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Inquiry Set in Death of Anna Nicole Smith's Son

At least one other person was with him and his mother when he died, authorities say.

September 14, 2006|From the Associated Press

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 that 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 other person was not a member of the hospital staff, Reginald Ferguson, assistant commissioner of the Royal Bahamian Police Force, told the Associated Press. He declined 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.

Virgill said authorities believed they knew what killed Smith. She said there was no sign of physical injury to him.

"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" would be.

Smith frantically tried to revive her son and had to be sedated after he died, Scott said.

Police believe that Daniel Smith went directly to Doctors Hospital in Nassau, where his mother was, after flying in to the Bahamas on Saturday, Ferguson said.

Smith was the son of Anna Nicole and Bill Smith, who married in 1985 and divorced two years later. 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, over her entitlement to the tycoon's estate before he too died, in June of this year, at 67.

Smith won a $474-million judgment, which was eventually reduced to zero. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Smith could pursue her claim in federal courts in California, despite a Texas state court ruling that Marshall's son was sole heir.

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