Hearings Begin in Custody of Anna Nicole's Body, Baby's Paternity

ByABC News via logo
February 20, 2007, 7:37 AM

Feb. 20, 2007 — -- Anna Nicole Smith, a woman who craved attention in life, is getting that and more in death.

Today, the real drama will begin when some of the key players in her love life are expected to appear in courts in Florida's Broward County and in California to fight for her body and for her baby, respectively.

A sign at the shrine in front of the Broward County morgue says "Rest in Peace, Anna Nicole," but there is no peace yet for Smith.

Her body is under lock and key inside the morgue, and is at the center of a very noisy courtroom battle with the very colorful Broward Circuit Court Judge Larry Seidlin.

"We got to show respect to and dignity to the body," Seidlin said last week.

That is proving to be difficult given all the people trying to claim Smith's body and her baby, Dannielynn Hope Marshall, who could inherit millions.

In the Broward County court, the judge will determine who gets Smith's body. In California, another hearing is scheduled today about how to determine who is the baby's father.

First, there is Smith's estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, from Texas.

"I hope to go down there and get the baby and to protect her," she said. "She doesn't have anybody. She's alone now."

But Howard K. Stern, Smith's partner and, according to the birth certificate, legally Dannielynn's father, says not a chance.

In an interview with "Entertainment Tonight," Stern made it clear that he didn't like Arthur.

"Anna, she just despised that woman, despised that woman," Stern said. "As long as I have one breath left in my body, that woman will not see Dannielynn."

But is Dannielynn Stern's baby? Not according to Smith's ex-lover Larry Birkhead.

"I have the willpower and the determination to know my daughter, and I know I will win maybe," Birkhead said on "20/20."

Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, says the baby could be his.