Source AP ©

Bahamas begins inquest into death of Anna Nicole Smith's son

An inquest into the death of Anna Nicole Smith's 20-year-old son, who died in September while visiting his mother after she gave birth in a Bahamas hospital, stalled before the court could even pick a jury.

Soon after the session began Tuesday, spectators and reporters were ordered to leave the courtroom when Wayne Munroe, a lawyer for the estate of the Playboy Playmate, asked the judge to consider a motion that "relates to the impaneling of a jury to act on this inquiry."

Munroe and other attorneys declined to comment upon leaving court, saying Bahamian legal rules prohibited them from discussing a closed session.

Later, Bernard Turner, director of public prosecutions, told reporters that the court would take at least another day to resolve the issue raised by Munroe and the inquest would not resume before Thursday.

The jury is expected to hear from dozens of witnesses - including Smith's lawyer-turned-companion Howard K. Stern - as they consider whether Daniel's death should be ruled an accident, suicide or perhaps even homicide.

Jurors will also hear a statement that Anna Nicole Smith gave about her son's death as well as testimony from Sandeep Kapoor, a California doctor who reportedly prescribed methadone to the her, the syndicated entertainment show "The Insider" reported.

Florida officials announced Monday in Florida that Anna Nicole Smith died on Feb. 8 of an accidental overdose caused by a lethal combination of at least nine prescription drugs - including a powerful sleep aid that a lawyer for Stern said she took to cope with grief over Daniel's death.

In September, Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist hired by Smith's family, concluded that her son died from the interaction of methadone and two antidepressant drugs. But the case remains open for Bahamian authorities.

The inquest is expected to last up to four weeks, Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez said. If the jury finds possible criminal activity, the Bahamian attorney general's office could pursue the case.

The first witnesses called would likely be physicians and staff at Doctors Hospital, where Daniel Smith died, Gomez said. But not all witnesses called to testify were expected to comply.

"Some of them will be called from the U.S., but we can't guarantee their attendance because they are out of our jurisdiction. We can't really force them to attend," he said.

Anna Nicole's mother, Virgie Arthur, who is not on the witness list, told reporters outside the court in Nassau's historic district that she planned on attending every day of the inquest.

"I'm praying the right thing will be done, and that my children will see justice," she said.

Larry Birkhead, a former boyfriend of Anna Nicole who claims to be the father of her daughter, Dannielynn, and is seeking custody in the Bahamian courts, is also attending the inquest. He said outside the court that Daniel's death was part of a "big puzzle" that he hoped to see solved.

"If you put the pieces of it together, then maybe that can help them out," Birkhead said.

Daniel Smith was the son of Anna Nicole and Bill Smith, who married in 1985 and divorced two years later. He died Sept. 10 while visiting his mother in the Nassau hospital where she had given birth to Dannielynn three days earlier. Bill Smith also had a Bahamian lawyer at the Tuesday session.