Anna Nicole Smith’s longtime lawyer and companion, Howard K Stern, told a court today that he was surprised to learn an overdose had killed Smith’s son Daniel, as he never suspected that the young man was abusing drugs.
Stern, the final witness to testify at the inquest to determine what killed Daniel Smith in September 2006, said he originally thought the toxicology report revealing that the 20-year-old had died from a combination of drugs was false.
"I didn’t believe Daniel died of a drug overdose at all. Even after the toxicology report came back, I thought that was some kind of set up or something," Stern said in the inquest, which ended today.
"He wasn’t that kind of kid."
Stern, the last witness to testify before a seven-member jury, said he regrets that he did not recognize that Daniel’s health was deteriorating, shortly before he died in the Bahamas.
"Daniel said to me, ‘I don’t know why I’m so tired.’ I didn’t think anything of it," Stern said. "I wish I had."
Stern, who is the executor of Anna Nicole’s estate, denied ever giving Daniel any drugs.
Stern’s account contradicted the portrayal given yesterday by Anna Nicole’s former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, who described her son as troubled and apparently struggling with drugs and alcohol.
Stern also testified he took a photograph of Anna Nicole cradling her dead son after his collapse in her hospital room.
"I did that for her and I would do it again," he said, adding that Anna Nicole requested the picture to be taken.
At the time of his death, Daniel was visiting his mother after she had given birth to daughter Dannielynn in a Nassau hospital. Anna Nicole’s fatal overdose in Florida occurred about six months later.
This week the jury will formally determine what killed Daniel, and has the power to recommend criminal charges if it finds evidence of wrongdoing. Police have said there is no evidence of homicide in his death, and an autopsy has found that the likely cause of death was a combination of drugs, including methadone and antidepressants.
Photo courtesy of Indican.