FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Anna Nicole Smith's estranged mother tearfully said yesterday that her daughter last told her she wanted to be buried in California near her idol Marilyn Monroe -- a statement that could hurt the woman's fight to have the former Playboy centerfold laid to rest in her native Texas.
Virgie Arthur, 55, said her last conversation with her daughter about her burial was more than 10 years ago.
"Wherever the stars are buried, that's where she wanted to be buried," said Arthur.
The testimony came in a dispute between Arthur and Howard K. Stern, the lawyer who had been Smith's boyfriend for many years. Stern wants to bury her in the Bahamas with her son, Daniel, who died last September at age 20 of apparently drug-related causes.
Arthur said she believed any mother would want to be buried with her children. She said she wants to exhume the son and rebury him in Texas.
The Florida hearing is just one part of the legal battle surrounding Smith, who died Feb. 8. In California, a judge is trying to determine who fathered Smith's 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, who could inherit millions, depending on how Smith's estate is divided.
Stern is listed as the father on the birth certificate, but photographer Larry Birkhead, who once dated Smith, says the girl is his.
On Tuesday, Stern testified that Smith had insisted at her son's funeral on being buried with him in the Bahamas. But Stern also acknowledged that she had once asked to be buried next to Monroe.
On the stand in Fort Lauderdale, Arthur was questioned 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 said no to questions about arrangements with specific media outlets, and sidestepped other questions or claimed she didn't understand them.
"Have you in any fashion profited at all from the death of your daughter?" asked Krista Barth, a lawyer for Stern.
Arthur stared for a moment. "I'm trying to process that question," she said. Then Arthur attempted to deflect the attention, pointing at Stern.
"He has," she said.
It was a refrain Arthur repeated several times in an attempt to raise suspicions about 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," Arthur said, crying. "Please, help us."
Stern shook his head. Earlier in 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."
For a second time, Broward County's chief medical examiner, Dr. Joshua Perper, warned the judge that little time remains before Smith's body becomes too decomposed for a public viewing.
Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin promised to announce a ruling by tomorrow.
Deterioration begins at the moment of death, and embalming only slows the process, so the face could undergo unsightly changes in color. Stern and Arthur were brought to the morgue to have a viewing of the body during the court's lunchtime break.