Anna Nicole's son died of drug overdose, jury says

NASSAU (Reuters) - Tabloid star Anna Nicole Smith’s son Daniel died of a drug overdose, an inquest jury in the Bahamas ruled on Monday.

Model and actress Anna Nicole Smith hugs her son Daniel as they arrive for "G-Phoria - The Award Show 4 Gamers" at the Shrine Auditoreum in Los Angeles, California July 31, 2004. REUTERS/Jim Ruymen

The seven-member jury took 73 minutes to reach its unanimous verdict after coroner William Campbell had directed them to return one of three options.

He said they could decide 20-year-old Daniel Smith died of “non-dependent abuse of drugs,” or by “accident or misadventure,” or they could return an open verdict.

Daniel’s grandmother, Virgie Arthur, was unhappy with the outcome because the coroner had limited the options, precluding a finding of homicide, said her attorney, Neil McCabe.

Daniel died at Doctors Hospital in the Bahamian capital of Nassau on September 10, 2006, while visiting his mother and her newborn daughter, Dannielynn. He had flown into the Bahamas from the United States the night before.

Two autopsies concluded that he died from a “cocktail” of prescription drugs, including methadone.

Anna Nicole Smith died at age 39 of an accidental prescription drug overdose in Florida in February 2007 and is buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Nassau alongside her son.

At the time of her death, the former pin-up model and reality television star was embroiled in a long-running legal battle over the will of her late husband, billionaire oil tycoon Howard Marshall. They had married when she was 26 years old and he was 89.

Smith’s death touched off a sensational court battle over the disposal of her remains and custody of Dannielynn. The infant was found to be the daughter of Smith’s former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, and not her companion, Howard K. Stern.

A Los Angeles judge this month declared Dannielynn the sole heir to her mother’s estate, meaning the child could inherit a multimillion-dollar fortune if the dispute between Smith and her late husband’s family is settled in her favor.

Editing by Jane Sutton and Xavier Briand