Two men claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby are now battling over the late model's body.
Photographer Larry Birkhead petitioned a court Tuesday asking that the model's remains be preserved for DNA paternity testing, while a medical examiner warned that her body is decomposing and should be released.
The petition made in Broward County Circuit Court requests that a California court order for DNA testing that was filed Friday, the day after Smith died, be enforced in Florida.
An attorney for Smith said DNA had already been taken.
Tuesday's request was made so that work done to secure the Los Angeles court order "not be in vain," Birkhead's attorney, Debra Opri said.
A Los Angeles judge last week requested that Florida authorities keep Smith's body for 10 days. That court earlier ordered DNA testing, which Smith's companion Howard K. Stern and Smith's mother, Vergie Arthur, were opposing.
A court hearing was planned for Wednesday morning, she said.
Meanwhile, Broward County medical examiner Joshua Perper issued an affidavit urging the prompt release of Smith's body, warning that "any further delay would result in destructive changes to the body." Smith died Thursday after collapsing at a hotel.
Perper said attorneys representing Stern and her mother notified him that they plan to request an emergency order for a prompt release of the body.
Stern, who says he is the father of 5-month old Dannielynn, and Smith's mother fear that if the body is not embalmed, even though it is refrigerated, it will not be suitable for viewing or funeral purposes, Perper said.
Perper said the model's body will remain refrigerated until he receives a judge's order.
Telephone messages left at the offices and on the cell phone of James T. Neavitt, Stern's attorney, were not immediately returned. Telephone messages could not be left on Stern's cell phone.
Ron Rale, the attorney who had represented Smith in the Los Angeles court battle over paternity, said late Tuesday that he planned to go to the Los Angeles court Wednesday morning to ask that the hold on the body be reduced on grounds that the coroner had already extracted DNA.
"Her DNA is never going to show paternity for the baby," Rale said.
Along with the paternity case, Rale is the executor of Smith's estate. He and Stern, also a co-executor, are authorized to make funeral arrangements. Rale, however, told The Associated Press Television News that Smith's mother was fighting to bring her body to Texas for burial, reports AP.
Smith's mother could not immediately be located for comment. Rale said Smith and her mother had been estranged for 15 years.
"I implore Anna Nicole's mother to do the best for her daughter, carry on with her wishes and her wish is not to go to Texas," Rale said.
Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of the actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, has said he had a decade-long affair with Smith and may also be the father. He said Monday he plans to file a paternity challenge in court and wants a DNA test.
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