Despite Thursday's ruling, Virgie Arthur says she has the rights to her daughter's remains

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 23, 2007 12:25 PM

In yet another strange twist in the custody case over Anna Nicole Smith’s remains, no sooner did the principals leave the courtroom arm in arm on Thursday than Smith’s mother, Virgie Arthur, announced she would appeal Judge Larry Seidlin’s ruling.

Seidlin had decided that Richard Milstein, the court-appointed guardian of Smith’s 5-month-old daughter Dannielynn, would select a final resting place for the former Playmate, who died in Hollywood, Fla., Feb. 8.

After the hearing, Milstein announced that Smith would be buried in the Bahamas, alongside her son Daniel, who died last September.

Explaining her decision to appeal on Friday’s Today show, Arthur, appearing with her Houston-based attorney John O’Quinn, said, “The judge talked to [Anna’s first husband] Billy Smith, Daniel’s father, yesterday. Billy said he wanted them buried together. But Billy and I had already planned to bring Danny home. And what he meant was, he wanted Anna to be buried with Danny. So, he didn’t mean in the Bahamas – he meant in Texas, where the family was, because all our family is in Texas.”

Explaining the legal grounds for an appeal, O’Quinn said, “Grounds for appeal is that, under Florida law, this woman sitting next to me, Virgie Arthur, the mother of Anna Nicole Smith, is the only person to handle this burial. That’s the law. It’s like [legendary baseball coach] Yogi Berra said, ‘It’s not over till it’s over.’ So, maybe the first inning’s over, but we got some more innings to play. At the end, we will get victory.”

After Today anchor Matt Lauer pointed out that “time is of the essence” as far as the condition of the body for burial is concerned, Arthur said, “The judge was the one who caused this delay. It shouldn’t have taken so long [for the hearing], you know. ”

Asked if she thought the judge was confused or wrong in his decision, Arthur replied, “Yes, I believe he was wrong.”

In response to what Lauer termed the “bizarre performance” of Judge Seidlin in the courtroom, and the possibility that the jurist was even “incompetent,” Arthur laughed, then said, “He took four or five days what would only take a normal judge a day, maybe a couple hours, to do. My opinion? I don’t know. Maybe he wants to be a movie star.”

Arthur also said it was “heartbreaking” for her to watch some TV interviews that were played in the courtroom, in which Anna Nicole expressed a loathing for her mother and vowed that the older woman would never see her Dannielynn.

“But,” Arthur insisted after blaming the remarks on Smith’s alleged drug use, “that was not my daughter. That was a shell of my daughter. Because my daughter would not have talked to me that way. She wouldn’t have. She loved me, I knew that. And I loved her, she knew that.”