Anna Nicole Smith's estranged mother and her ex-boyfriend both testified that the starlet said she wanted to be buried in California, not the plots in the Bahamas or Texas that have been the focus of the fierce weeklong legal debate.
Virgie Arthur, 55, said her last conversation with her daughter about her burial came more than 10 years ago, when Smith said she wanted to be interred near her idol Marilyn Monroe. Larry Birkhead testified he had a similar conversation with his ex-girlfriend in recent years, and longtime Smith companion Howard K. Stern has acknowledged the Playboy model had hoped to be buried near Monroe before settling on a Bahamian site.
"Wherever the stars are buried," an emotional Arthur said, "that's where she wanted to be buried."
Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin indicated earlier Wednesday that he wanted to broker a compromise between Arthur and Stern.
"When you walked into the court, you hope to get everything," Seidlin said. "We will try to fashion a remedy where not everyone gets everything they want."
The Florida hearing is just one part of the legal battle surrounding Smith. At issue in a California court is who fathered her 5-month-old daughter Dannielynn, who could inherit millions of dollars depending on how Smith's estate is broken up. Stern is listed as the father on the birth certificate, but Birkhead says the girl is his.
The day was filled with all the drama spectators in Seidlin's courtroom have come to expect. There was intense discussion on Smith's use of drugs and accusations of profiting off her losses.
Arthur was hammered with questions 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.
Since taking the stand Tuesday afternoon, Arthur had answered most questions directly, but when attorneys targeted her alleged profiteering, her demeanor changed. She frequently said no to questions about arrangements with specific media outlets, but also often said she did not understand or sidestepped inquiries altogether.
"Have you in any fashion profited at all from the death of your daughter?" asked Krista Barth, an attorney 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 as she also sought to create suspicion about a connection between 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," a crying Arthur said. "Please, help us."
Stern shook his head. Earlier in Arthur's testimony, he angrily rose from his seat, but Seidlin interrupted him before he could complete a sentence.
After a lunchtime break, Arthur acknowledged what she had denied earlier in the day that she has received some compensation from news organizations. She said the tabloid news agency Splash paid to fly her to the Bahamas when she visited her grandson's grave last month and acknowledged her sister-in-law had sold family video footage.
And Arthur acknowledged a Splash representative who she described as a friend had even accompanied her to a viewing of Smith's body Wednesday afternoon.
Stern was also questioned on the subject. He said he was receiving no money from news organizations, but had accepted a free flight to the Bahamas from "Entertainment Tonight." And Birkhead, who is a freelance photographer, said he had made no media deals, though he said he received royalties from photos he took of Smith.
Birkhead took the stand late in the day, detailing his relationship with Smith and reiterating his claim that he is her baby's father.
The hearing showed no sign of growing less contentious as it wore on into its fifth day. Seidlin was issued yet another warning from Broward County's chief medical examiner, Dr. Joshua Perper, who said little time remains before Smith's body is too decomposed for a public viewing. Seidlin promised a ruling by Friday morning, reports AP.
Smith died Feb. 8 in a Florida hotel, but the cause is still unknown. She was the widow of Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II. The two married in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. She had been fighting his family over his estimated $500 million (EUR380.37 million) fortune since his death in 1995.