Just when you think the Anna Nicole Smith case can't get any more strange, dramatic and melodramatic, it does.
The players in the courtroom drama to determine where to bury Smith's body volleyed accusations back and forth Wednesday, putting on trial their relationships with the former model and their motivations after her death.
Taking the stand Wednesday were Howard K. Stern, Smith's lawyer and companion; Virgie Arthur, Smith's mother; and Larry Birkhead, who says he is the father of Smith's baby girl, Dannielynn Hope Marshall.
He is not part of the lawsuit over where Smith should be buried.
Arthur and Birkhead accused Stern of enabling Smith's addiction by bringing her drugs when she was pregnant. In turn, Stern accused Arthur of trying to gain financially from her daughter's death.
Judge Larry Seidlin reminded the witnesses and their lawyers that they were in a court of law, responding angrily to one lawyer who ridiculed the nature of the trial.
"This is not a circus!" Seidlin shouted.
At times, it felt like one.
Stern's attorney, Krista Barth, grilled Arthur on the stand, asking her whether she was going to earn money off Smith's death. Barth questioned how Arthur had paid for a trip to the Bahamas earlier this month to search for Dannielynn and how she would pay for Smith's burial if she took the body to Texas.
"Are the newscasts paying for it?" Barth asked.
But Arthur fired right back.
"The only one who has ever, ever made money off of my daughter is that man sitting right there," she said, pointing in Stern's direction.
Arthur also accused Stern of complicity in the deaths of Smith and Smith's son, Daniel.
"My grandson did not overdose. Howard was there when he died, and Howard was there when my daughter died," she said. "And he has my granddaughter now. … It's not even his child."
Then came the punch line: "I'm afraid for her life as well. Please help us," Arthur said, sobbing on the stand.
Questioning Stern's Claims
Birkhead, who says he is Dannielynn's father, took the stand to insist that he, not Stern, had been Smith's lover.
"Do you know whether or not they had an intimate relationship?" Seidlin asked Birkhead.
"I know the answer to that," Birkhead testified.
"What's the answer?" Seidlin asked.
"The answer is, no, they did not," Birkhead said.
He then accused Stern of supplying Smith with drugs while she was in the hospital during her pregnancy.
"Mr. Stern brought in a duffel bag, and when there wasn't enough administered through the drips she was on, they would take one out of the bag and take it on top of the drugs that were given at the hospital," Birkhead testified.
When Stern took the stand, he confirmed Smith's drug addiction and the role he had played in it, but he said that he had tried to get her off drugs.
"I talked to her about it, and she did cut down a lot on medication that she took," Stern said. "Can anybody stop someone entirely?"
Stern also revealed how Smith had obtained drugs, confirming that she used a variety of aliases to obtain prescription medication.
"Some doctors prescribed things to her in different names even though they knew it was for her. One of those names is Michelle Chase. Another one is Suzie Wong," Stern said.
"I picked up prescriptions for her, yes," Stern said.
Today is expected to be the last day of testimony. Seidlin has promised to deliver a decision by Friday morning, bringing just one of the many chapters Smith's death has opened to a close.