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Friend turns over Smith's computers

He wants prosecutors to see whether they offer evidence of a crime.

March 10, 2007|Brian Haas and Paula McMahon | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — A friend of Anna Nicole Smith's who said she asked him to secure her belongings if "something ever happens" to her, turned them over to authorities in South Carolina because he feared her death was drug-related and a crime, the man's attorney said Friday.

The friend, Ford Shelley, who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C., wants prosecutors to determine whether Smith's computer equipment offers any evidence of a crime, Shelley's Fort Lauderdale attorney, Walter "Skip" Campbell, said Friday.

"He has concerns ... that something might have occurred that led to the death of Ms. Smith," Campbell said. "He had some evidence, and he wants it looked at by the authorities."

Smith was found unresponsive Feb. 8 in her hotel room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and pronounced dead at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood.

Broward County Chief Medical Examiner Joshua Perper on Thursday delayed ruling on Smith's cause of death because of two new pieces of evidence. Perper, who has not disclosed the evidence, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Shelley said he befriended Smith when his father-in-law, G. Ben Thompson, dated her. Thompson later allowed her and her longtime companion, Howard K. Stern, to move into a house he owned in the Bahamas, Shelley said.

On Feb. 22, Shelley testified in Broward Circuit Court that Smith entrusted him with protecting her personal belongings.

"She looked at me and said, 'Ford, if something ever happens to me, and Howard is not around, take the computers and passports,' " Shelley testified.

The day after Smith died, Shelley went through the Bahamas home. Shelley has said he found liquid methadone in a refrigerator in Smith's bedroom, but left it behind.

He took two laptop computers, an external hard drive, eight or nine mini-videocassettes and documents and turned them over to the Horry County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina, Chief Deputy Paul Butler said.

Horry County authorities turned the items over to the Seminole Police Department on Feb. 15 after talking with tribal police and Broward County homicide prosecutors.

Campbell and authorities have declined to identify what the potential evidence is.

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