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Florida Officials Hold Press Conference on Anna Nicole Smith Death

Aired February 9, 2007 - 15:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Kyra Phillips today.

We have a news conference that is expected to start any second now in Broward County, Florida. You're looking at a live picture. And we do expect to hear from the medical examiner who performed today's autopsy on Anna Nicole Smith. When that happens, we will take you there live.

In the meantime, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And we are expecting a medical examiner's news conference on the autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith to start at any moment -- live pictures right now.

And at that event is our very own Susan Candiotti. She is watching and waiting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

What can we expect?


Well, we just got a 10-minute signal just a -- a moment or two ago. We expect -- well, we certainly hope for some information about what happened during the autopsy. It started around 9:30 this morning. We don't know how long it lasted. They might have stopped probably at some point to gather their thoughts and put some paperwork together.

Is it complete? Were they able to determine whether she died of natural causes or possibly something else? Of course, they would be looking for a number of things, including whether she had any prescription drugs in her system.

I mention that, because one of the things we have learned today is that, in the hotel room, according to a law enforcement source -- sources -- a number of prescription drugs were found. We have also learned from another law enforcement source that some of those included Valium and antibiotics. That, presumably, Anna Nicole Smith was taking for a flu that she had been suffering from over the last several days.

Those prescription drugs were in Howard K. Stern's name. That's her partner. And, of course, those were confiscated by the police, all of that, as part of their investigation to try to learn what went on.

So, one question would be, did they find any prescription drugs in her system? And, if they did, will we get that answer this afternoon?

We have also learned of one other thing. In the last few days, before this incident happened, because she wasn't feeling well, according to police, there was a doctor that flew in all the way from California to examine Anna Nicole Smith. We don't know whether this was her personal physician or another doctor that flew in to see her.

But, again, we are waiting to find out more about what transpired. We have found out a little bit more about the timeline as this day has gone on, what happened when the nurse discovered Anna Nicole Smith.

She apparently did put out a call to not only the bodyguard to come and help. And he administered CPR. She did not call 911 right away. Instead, she first put in a phone call, according to our sources, to Mr. Stern, didn't get ahold of him right away, and had to wait for a call back. So, there was some delay before 911 was called -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Susan Candiotti, our correspondent on the ground there in Florida, we will be relying on you very heavily in the next hour -- a live report of this autopsy coming up in just a little bit -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, just hours ago, a judge refused to order an immediate DNA test on the remains of Anna Nicole Smith, but he did order Smith's body preserved until February 20. That is the date for another hearing on a suit by Smith's ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, who claims he is the father of Smith's baby daughter.

Now, he is contesting the claim of Howard K. Stern, whose name is on the birth certificate. Are you following me? Well, after today's hearing, the lawyers spoke.


DEBRA OPRI, ATTORNEY FOR LARRY BIRKHEAD: We had an emergency court hearing today, because we are concerned, based upon doctors, our expert's advice, that there would be a serious issue as to the preservation of evidence. It was an ex parte emergency hearing.

The court found that, because an autopsy is being performed, he need not order an additional testing. He did not grant our motion. He did not deny our motion. And the spinning by the respondents is self-evident, but he set us for a full hearing on all of our motions for February 20.

In the meantime, there is a temporary order in place, saying that Judge Schnider of Los Angeles Superior Court wants the remains of Anna Nicole Smith to be preserved, pending the February 20 hearing. RON RALE, ATTORNEY FOR ANNA NICOLE SMITH: We would think that the autopsy is going to preserve DNA anyway. We thought that before we came in here today. That's one of the reasons why we didn't believe this was an emergency. And the court has apparently agreed, because, obviously, there is no order for Anna Nicole's DNA to be extracted within the next day.

The proof is in the pudding. There is -- there is no order for the DNA to be extracted at this time. All we want to is go -- I want to protect Anna Nicole's rights, do everything through a court process. Just because she is a celebrity, we don't throw the -- the code books out.

And, like I said before, it makes me dig in my heels any -- even more, because, in my opinion, Anna Nicole has been like an underdog, to have to go through this. And just because she gets called out in the press, do this, do that, she doesn't have to. Everything should be done by court process.

And I take full responsibility for how the case has progressed, what Anna Nicole has or has not done. And -- and, for her record, she was perfectly willing to comply with every court order.


NGUYEN: So, no doubt, there are a lot of legal questions.

And coming up at the bottom of the hour, we are going to discuss the case with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

And, also, we're waiting on that news conference to take place in Fort Lauderdale. When it does, dealing with the autopsy, we will bring that to you live.

But let me tell you some more. As it turns out, Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead aren't the only ones claiming they fathered Anna Nicole Smith's baby.

In a bizarre new development -- get this -- the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor tells the Associated Press that he may be the father. The AP quotes Frederick von Anhalt as saying he had a decade- long affair with Smith, an affair that was still going on when Dannielynn was conceived.

He says, if Smith's baby is turned over to Stern or Birkhead, he will file a lawsuit, too.

LEMON: You can see on the left of your screen there preparing for that press conference to start at any moment now.

In the meantime, we're going to update you on the information about Anna Nicole Smith, as they prepare for that press conference. Anna Nicole Smith died estranged from her younger sister. Their feud dates back at least -- at least 10 years.

But Donna Hogan is speaking out about family history and the role she wants to play now.

She joined CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" last night by telephone.


DONNA HOGAN, SISTER OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH: she started separating herself between us whenever Howard died and E. Pierce Marshall and her were battling it out for the money.

She, like, didn't want any family members to come in between her and the money she was battling for.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": So, things were pretty bitter, then?

HOGAN: Yes, it -- well, it wasn't bitter. It's just I think she was afraid that we would cost her the millions of dollars that she was fighting for.

KING: Did you know Daniel well, her son?

HOGAN: Well, I mean, like I said, it's been over 10 years, you know? And -- and so we missed the teen years and him being a young man. So, I missed out on a lot of that. And that's why, with Dannielynn, you know, I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen.

KING: Yes, what are you going to do? All right, you have got a niece now.

HOGAN: Absolutely. It...

KING: She doesn't have a mother.

What are you going to do?

HOGAN: It's awful. Well, for one thing, I'm going to make sure Howard K. Stern does not raise her. I do not believe he is the father. And I don't believe that he's capable of raising her.

KING: So, are you going to go to court over this?

HOGAN: I'm hoping, you know, that we find the father. I'm hoping that Larry Birkhead gets a chance to prove if he's the father or not. And, if he is, then I will stand beside him on that. And, if not, then -- then, yes, we need to step in.


LEMON: So much new information coming to light -- Larry King will have it all tonight, starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Well, as we know, she had her highs. She had her lows, her very low lows, emotionally, financially, professionally, and physically. All of us do, of course, but Anna Nicole Smith's were extreme, and very, very public, and very possibly hazardous to her health. Here is CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A public life and a well-known health history -- medically and otherwise, Anna Nicole Smith's life has been a roller-coaster ride. Of all Anna Nicole Smith's ups and downs, the most famous was with her weight.

At 5 foot, 11 inches, she weighed just 140 pounds as a "Playboy" Playmate in 1992. Over the years, she reached a personal record high of 224 pounds.


KING: Do you know why you put on weight? Do you know why, yourself?


KING: Was it due to depression?

SMITH: It was the depression from reliving the trials...

KING: Yes.

SMITH: ... from -- from my husband, twice. That's why I got fat twice. And nobody understands that. Nobody cares, because they think I'm a gold digger.

And it's not true. I loved my husband, and I had to relive that over twice. I had to keep reliving this court thing. You know, it depressed me. It depressed me to hear the awful things that I had to hear.


GUPTA: In 2003, she shed 69 pounds, becoming a spokesperson for the weight-loss supplement TrimSpa.

At that time, the supplement contained ephedra, a drug linked to high blood pressure, heart problems, strokes and seizures. The next year, the FDA banned ephedra, and it was taken out of TrimSpa products.

This past September, Anna Nicole had a C-section, delivering her baby girl in Nassau. And, then, three days later, her 20-year-old son died in her hospital room. A month later, she was back in the same hospital with pneumonia. The emotional stress had to be tremendous.

And now, of course, her sudden death leaves even more medical questions yet to be answered.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


NGUYEN: And we're hoping to get some of those answers. You're looking at the left-hand side of your screen. It's a live picture out of Fort Lauderdale.

We're expecting to hear from the Broward County medical examiner, to learn a little bit more about the autopsy that was done on Anna Nicole Smith. It's expected to happen any minute now.

And, when it does, we will bring it to you live.

In the meantime, everyone knows Anna Nicole Smith, but let's talk about some of the men in her life, names that you will hear a lot about, especially in the final acts of this drama as it plays out.

Well, of course, there was J. Marshall -- J. Howard Marshall, I should say -- the 89-year-old oil tycoon who married Smith and died one year later. And that gave rise to a bruising fight with Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall, over the billion-dollar estate. And, last year, the son died, too. But his family is continuing the court fight.

There is also Howard K. Stern, Smith's attorney and her most recent companion. Smith called Stern her husband, but it's still unclear whether they were legally married. Stern is listed on the birth certificate as the father of Smith's baby daughter, Dannielynn. But that, too, is under dispute.

And Smith's ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, claims he is the father. He's demanding a paternity test and trying to persuade a judge in L.A. to accommodate him. Smith also had a son from a teenage -- from a teenage pre-celebrity marriage.

You may remember Daniel Smith. He died suddenly in September, reportedly of a combination of methadone and antidepressants. Friends say Smith never got over Daniel's death.

LEMON: And you're looking at the left side of your screen there. Just a moment ago, a spokesperson from the Broward Sheriff's Office saying -- giving us the five-minute warning -- warning.

Let's go back to our Susan Candiotti, who is on the ground there.

Susan, what do you know?

CANDIOTTI: Well, they came out and said just a couple more minutes.

So, we will wait for the medical examiner to come out and say what he has to say about the autopsy. Of course, the question will be, does he have any preliminary findings? Did Anna Nicole Smith die of natural causes and/or an accidental death? We don't know. We're waiting to hear what the circumstances were.

We see that there is -- some people are gathering near the door at this time, but no one has come out as yet. We will just take a moment to remind everyone that, once the authorities came to the hotel to gather evidence, they were there for several hours last night. And the Seminole Police Department asked the BSO, the Broward Sheriff's Office, to come in and help. They gathered evidence. And some of that will also be a part of this investigation -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Susan, thank you very much. We will be checking in with you in a bit.

We are going to take a short break here. Not to worry -- if something happens, we will come back to you, but the NEWSROOM continues in just a moment.


NGUYEN: Take a live look.

We are still waiting for that news conference to take place any moment now. We have just been told that it's going to take place very, very shortly. So, stand by for that, as we hear from the Broward County medical examiner details on the autopsy that was performed on Anna Nicole Smith.

We are hoping to learn a lot more information as to what exactly killed her. So, stay tuned. When that happens, we will bring it to you live.

LEMON: And, if you have been following this on the entertainment shows, for months, "Entertainment Tonight" has had extensive coverage of Anna Nicole Smith and her story.

Just days ago, "E.T."'s Mark Steines spoke with Smith at her home she and her partner were renovating in the Bahamas.

Now, Steines talked about that today on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," and elaborating on the changes he noticed and an earlier alleged suicide attempt.


MARK STEINES, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": Anna had to take a two- hour nap before we did that interview, because she was just so weak.

She doesn't sleep well -- or she didn't sleep well. And there were periods in time in -- throughout her day where she just needed to sit down and have some Anna Nicole time.

After the interview, we talked about Daniel -- or, at the end of the interview, we talked about Daniel. And she talked about the emotional toll it took on her life, how she stills has nightmares about him -- of him trying to find his way in the afterlife, trying to find someone that he can connect to, perhaps J. Howard Marshall. And she was really concerned about him.

And I felt a drifting away from Dannielynn. She didn't seem to be the attentive mother that she used to be back in October, when I saw her. She didn't seem to know at times where Dannielynn was, where, in October, she knew exactly where she was and would hear her cry.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Mark, it sounds like she...

STEINES: So, Anna Nicole was certainly -- go ahead.

O'BRIEN: It sounds like she was an emotional wreck. And, coupled with that, she was losing a tremendous amount of weight very quickly. It doesn't sound like a very healthy recipe there.

STEINES: Well, yes, she was trying to lose weight.

When I saw her in October, she, of course, just had the baby and had a C-section. By February, she had lost some of her weight, but she wasn't back down to that tiny, tiny Anna Nicole Smith that we saw after the TrimSpa success, but, then again, she wasn't working out as much.

She doesn't go outside. There were so many paparazzi around, she was really forced to stay indoors, with the -- with the exception of a few trips back and forth.

I can tell you this, though, that we -- we have found out that, after the death of Daniel, at some point, Anna did jump in her pool, attempt suicide at that point, and was found by Howard face down in the pool.

Howard screamed for help. Her bodyguard, Moe (ph), came out, who is a -- who is paramedic, and took her from the pool, administered CPR, and -- and saved her life at that point.

So, I don't know if that led up to this, where she just didn't feel like she could conquer all of the DNA stuff that's going on in her life, the accusations of Howard K. Stern murdering her son Daniel, and a TrimSpa lawsuit that is pending as well, and J. Howard Marshall. I mean, there was so much going on, and I don't know if that was just too much for her.


LEMON: That was Mark Steines from "Entertainment Tonight."

Join Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien on "AMERICAN MORNING," weekdays at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.

NGUYEN: Well, as you can imagine, over the past 24 hours, people have been e-mailing us their thoughts and I-Reports on Anna Nicole Smith. And we would like to share a couple of those with you.

LEMON: Yes, the first one is from Diana Tobias of Babylon, New York.

She snapped this picture three years ago in Las Vegas. And she says she introduced herself to Smith, and the -- and the actress was down-to-earth and approachable and extremely nice.

NGUYEN: And Fernando Escovar of California says he took Smith's picture more than once as a professional photographer. Here is one of those pictures.

And we do want to remind you that, whenever you have news photos or video to share, remember to go to and click on I-Reports.

Well, she wasn't so much a candle in the wind, as a neon sign that buzzed, flickered, and finally burned out, though it's hard to say "finally," when Anna Nicole Smith wasn't even out of her 30s.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports on the small-town girl whose big dreams and nightmares all came true.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was the stripper and centerfold who went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The woman the world knew as Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan to a single mother in a small Texas town in 1967.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": It was a tough childhood?




TUCHMAN: At 16, she dropped out of high school and married a chicken fry cook. At 19, she gave birth to a son, Daniel Smith -- in 1992, her big break.


SMITH: There was an ad in the paper for "Playboy"'s Playmates. And I went to the ad and took some pictures. And "Playboy" called me and flew me to Los Angeles, and I was on the March cover of 1992.


TUCHMAN: This was the cover and the moment Anna Nicole Smith became famous. She was named Playmate of the Year. Her voluptuous figure caught the eye of Guess jeans, who gave her a contract and a new identity.


SMITH: Anna Nicole came from Guess jeans, Paul Marciano, and me, and one of his friends. We were sitting around coming up with a stage name. And that's where that came from.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TUCHMAN: Movie roles followed, and then controversy.


SMITH: I have never had love like that before. No one has ever loved me and done things for me and respected me and didn't care about what people said about me. I mean, he truly loved me. And I loved him for it.


TUCHMAN: In 1994, the 26-year-old Smith married 89-year-old Texas oil magnate J. Howard Marshall II; 14 months later, Marshall died, leaving an estimated $1.6 billion.

His son battled her over Marshall's fortune. He said she was not one of the rightful heirs. It was a fight that would take her all the way to the Supreme Court. Last year, the justices ruled in her favor, but the case is still being fought in lower courts. And her attorney said today she's never gotten a dime.

As her fame grew, so did her weight. Tired of what she said were all the fat jokes, Smith lost the weight, and became spokeswoman for TrimSpa weight-loss pills. Last year, she said she was pregnant, but wouldn't say who the father was, which has led to an ongoing paternity dispute.

And, on September 7 of last year, in a hospital in the Bahamas, Smith gave birth to a baby girl. It should have been the happiest time of her life, but, just three days later, her 20-year-old son collapsed in Smith's hospital room. He died. The coroner she hired says it was from an overdose of methadone and antidepressants.


HOWARD K. STERN, PARTNER AND ATTORNEY OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH: Daniel, you know, he is more than a son to her. They're great friends, best friends. And Daniel is her rock. So, everything that she's gone through, Daniel's been there with her. And, honestly, I don't know how we're going to get through this.


TUCHMAN: Five months later, Anna Nicole Smith was dead at 39. Her life was strange. And it was sad.


SMITH: I can't trust anybody. I just -- I can't. I get sued all the time. I can't trust anybody.


TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: Well, that was an interview a while back on "LARRY KING LIVE."

On the left side of your screen there, a press conference expected to happen in Broward County, Florida, about the autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith.

And we're also going to read some of your e-mails -- a lot of viewers responding about the death of Anna Nicole.

NGUYEN: And we will have much more on this. When that news conference happens, we will take it live.

And just so that you know, we are going to get some perspective on the back end of that news conference. We have CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen here to talk about the medical angles. And, on the legal issues dealing with the estates, and -- and all of that, that has to do with the Anna Nicole saga, we have CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin, who will be here as well.

So, don't go away. As soon as it happens, we will bring it to you live. But, right now, we will take a short break.


LEMON: All right, you're watching live coverage here in the CNN NEWSROOM, a press conference expected to get under way very shortly. They gave us a -- the warning a little while ago. This is our affiliates all over. This is the power of CNN here. So, we're -- we're bringing this story to you for -- from every angle.

As soon as that press conference gets under way, we are going to bring it to you live here, right here on CNN.

But, Betty, we have been talking about just how much of an impact Anna Nicole Smith had on people. And our viewers have been hitting the Web site and also our e-mails, and sending in lots of e-mails...


NGUYEN: It is really remarkable. You should see all of the e- mails that we're getting -- the pictures as well.

But let's just share a few of them with you.

Karen (ph) from Philadelphia says: "I cannot get this woman off my mind. What a life. She was a very beautiful, smart, and sexy woman. And we will all miss her. I believe this all stems from her son's death. My heart goes out to her family and her baby daughter. God bless."


And this one came in from -- right here Georgia, Alpharetta, Georgia. His name is David (ph). David (ph) said: "She was a wonderful lady, but, now, it's my opinion -- in my opinion, has become the modern-day Marilyn Monroe. A lot of questions need to be asked. And the time for thinking outside the box on this one is a definite must. There is way too much money involved here."

NGUYEN: And this one from Debbie (ph) of West Virginia -- as we see these folks come out. If they start to speak, I will stop.

But I will continue with this e-mail. Debbie says: "What will I remember? Her sadness, innocence, and her beauty. She looked sad even before the death of her son. She was more like Marilyn Monroe than she thought. She had that same lost-little-girl look in her eyes. You know the old saying. The eyes are the mirror to the soul. Like Marilyn, Anna wasn't a dumb blonde either. I hope the press shows her more respect now than they did before."

LEMON: And it's amazing. You would think that, with all the controversy surrounding Anna Nicole Smith and the divorces and what have you, that there would be -- not many negative e-mails in here about her.

Nate Wade (ph) of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, says: "I think the death of her son was really hard for her, too hard for her to deal with, with a lot of people mistreating her. And they were not trying to help her. She was a good person. And I'm sorry for her family's loss. Please keep us updated on her beautiful daughter."

NGUYEN: And just one more, this from Cinnamon (ph) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it really speaks to what is going on with -- with -- with the paternity case.

And we have learned not only Howard K. Stern, but Larry Birkhead, and -- and now a new person has come into the mix. And this e-mail says -- quote -- "Birkhead and now Zsa Zsa Gabor's former husband are just trying to get their hands on little Dannielynn's possible inheritance."

So, that is one viewer feels about the entire situation.

We will eventually find out who, indeed, is the father. But, right now, today, we're waiting to find out what killed that little girl's mother, Anna Nicole Smith. And, as soon as that takes place, we will bring it to you live.

In the meantime, a little bit more about Anna Nicole Smith -- she rarely met a camera that she didn't like. Professional photographer, fans, she posed for them all. And many people have been e-mailing us some of those snapshots.

Want to share some of those with you right now.

Allison Devers (ph) of Idaho took this picture in 2005 at a TrimSpa makeover challenge. You see that picture right there.

Another one for you -- Keith Whitten (ph) of Orlando, Florida, says he met Anna Nicole in 2003, when she was filming her reality show -- Remember that show? -- and writes, "She couldn't have been nicer."

If you have photos or video, we do urge you to share them with us. Go to and click on I-Reports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One minute from mark.

LEMON: All right. So, we're getting -- getting the one-minute warning here.

And we want to take you -- we're live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM -- and just checking out, Anna Nicole Smith, obviously, the most popular story on, the most popular video, the most watched video.

And you can share your stories, if you go on to CNN.

Let's come around here, Adam (ph), and take a look at -- this is our home page here. Just make sure we have it. We want to refresh it.

This is our home page, with Anna Nicole with her beautiful baby daughter right here. Of course, Anna Nicole, as I say, a top story -- also, the most popular, "Judge Preserves Smith's Body" right here.

And, then, also, you can get interviews. You can get the most popular video. Our Miles O'Brien talks to "Entertainment Tonight," Mark Steines. That's the most popular on here -- and some of the best video, "Anna Nicole" -- number three here, "Anna Nicole Remembered."

There's also a quick vote. Guys, where is it on the page? Do we know? Is it on the right side here?

It's on the lower right side. You can get a quick vote. Here it is right here: "Do you see parallels between the lives and deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole Smith?"

As we watch this come out, just very quickly -- we won't -- you won't lose a word here -- but let's see. Forty-eight percent say yes.

So, they're walking out at this Florida news conference.

Let's take a listen to the medical examiner in Broward County.

DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Good afternoon. My name is Joshua Perper. And I'm the chief medical examiner for Broward County.

I would like, first, to thank Chief Tiger from the Seminole police, who did a very professional investigation in this particular case. And I would like, also, to thank the sheriff of Broward County, Sheriff Jenne, who was very helpful and cooperative in providing security to our office during this particular investigation.

We will have the -- Chief Charlie Tiger say a few words about his investigation. And, then, I will report to you about our findings.


Good afternoon. My name is Charlie Tiger, chief of the Seminole Police Department.

First, I want to again extend our sympathy to the family and friends of Anna Nicole Smith.

Next, I want to thank Dr. Perper and -- and the fine staff of the Broward Medical Examiner's Office for their thorough work on this case. We also want to acknowledge the good work of the Broward Sheriff's Office Crime Unit. And our thanks go out to Sheriff Ken Jenne.

With regard to the ongoing investigation, we have some additional information we -- to share with you today.

At the Seminole Police Department, we treat any death with utmost importance, and investigate it thoroughly. At this point, no evidence has been revealed to suggest that a crime occurred. We found no illegal drugs, only prescription medicines. We are not releasing the names on those prescriptions.

We have taken sworn statements from all the parties involved. Everyone has cooperated fully. We are continuing to review certain surveillance tapes, but nothing unusual has been observed.

This incident will remain open, an open investigation, until all tests are completed by the medical examiner's office.

Thank you for being here today.

QUESTION: Chief, will you take questions?

DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD CO., FLORIDA MEDICAL EXAMINER: We have been informed that yesterday was -- February 8th at about 1:00 p.m. or around it, the attendants of Mrs. Nicole Smith found her collapsed and unconscious. She apparently had been sick for several days with what was approximately some kind of stomach flu. And one of the individuals who was a bodyguard provided resuscitation. Medics came to the scene and the body was transferred to the hospital. In the hospital, unfortunately, the patient was virtually dead on arrival and was declared dead around 2:40 or so in the afternoon.

According to the Florida statute, the Broward County Medical Examiner assumed jurisdiction because this is clearly a sudden, unexpected and unexplained death. And according to that, myself and one of our associate medical examiners, Dr. Jouse (ph), performed an autopsy, which we just completed several moments ago.

The autopsy was able to exclude any kind of physical injury, such as blunt force trauma, gunshot wound, stab wounds or asphyxia as a cause of death, as a contributory cause of death or a hastening cause of death.

The only thing which we found in terms of very minor trauma was a minor bruise on the back, which was related apparently to a fall reported to have occurred several days ago while the -- Mrs. Smith was in the bathroom. The autopsy revealed only subtle findings in the heart and in the gastrointestinal system, in other words, in the intestines, which would have to be verified microscopically. The other finding which we found was a small amount of blood in the stomach, which is related to her being in terminal shock a short time before she died.

At this time, we do not make a determination of the cause and the manner of death. And, basically, we have a long list of investigation procedures which have to be completed and include an extensive review of the medical records, interview the witnesses which were with Mrs. Smith or witnessed her collapse, further cardiovascular examination of the heart and neuropathological examination of the brain and the spinal cord, bacterial and viral studies of the heart, intestines and a variety of other tissues, chemical analysis of the eye fluid and an extensive microscopic examination of the body tissues which were taken for examination.

Now, it's our estimate that collecting the information and putting it together and relating the clinical, pathological and laboratory data would take approximately somewhere between three and five weeks.

The medical examiner's office is obviously aware of the significant public interest in this death and therefore, we are prepared to make optimal efforts to expedite the determination of the cause and manner of death without affecting the thoroughness and the reliability of our investigation.

So, now, if you have any questions, either address the chief or to me.


PERPER: One moment, one moment. I'm not able to answer to reporters' questions. So we have from the Sheriff's Office...

QUESTION: Is there any indication that she may have taken a large amount of the prescription drugs that were in the room? And what were those drugs, please?

PERPER: There is no such indication because we didn't find any kind of pills in the stomach. If this would be the case, then there would have been a large amount. We would have seen that. However, at this time, we don't have the results of the chemical tests, of the toxicological tests. And that's why this determination of the cause and manner of death is postponed until the entire -- pieces of the puzzle. It's a medical puzzle which you have to resolve, have to be placed in place so we get a comprehensive picture of what exactly happened.

QUESTION: You haven't ruled it out, right? Have you ruled it out? Have you ruled out drugs at all, completely?

PERPER: Rule out what?

QUESTION: Have you ruled out drugs? PERPER: No, I didn't rule it. I think I was very clear. What I said is that as part of our investigation, we will make a very comprehensive and thorough examination of a variety of drugs and medication which she probably took. We have a list of the medication which apparently were in the room. But the list of medication doesn't mean that those medication would be found in the person. So we did not exclude any kind of contribution of medication for the death. And this will have to wait for the results of the toxicological study.

QUESTION: Are you ruling out that it was a natural cause of death?

PERPER: It's a possibility that it might be. At this time, I cannot make a determination because there are a number of possibilities.

Basically, there are three major possibilities. One is that the death is due solely to natural causes. The other possibility is that the death might be due to some medication or chemicals. And the third possibility is that there's a combination of natural causes and medication and at this time, we do not have the results of the test which would permit us to make this determination.

QUESTION: Doctor Perper, you said there was subtle finding -- you found subtle findings in the heart and gastrointestinal that need additional further examination. But what could those be findings be an indication of?

PERPER: Well, sometimes findings -- very subtle findings in the heart can be an indication of an inflammatory process in the heart which is not visible by the naked eye. That's why I'm saying -- I'm not saying that I made this diagnosis. But I see something which looks a little bit unusual and on microscopic examination this may verify a significant process or it may be nothing.


QUESTION: .... paternity suit in California. Is that something you would routinely do?

PERPER: We take DNA samples in all cases. Every case in the Medical Examiner's Office takes DNA cases. And in this particular case, because we are aware of other issues, we took a sufficient amount to make sure that there are no problems.

QUESTION: You were talking about those injuries. Did they come from continued drug abuse?

PERPER: I don't -- no, there are no findings to indicate continuous drug abuse.

QUESTION: OK. We were hearing she may have passed away because of vomiting. Did she choke on her own vomit? That's the theory we're hearing out there.

PERPER: Well, we found in the stomach a small amount of blood, as I said before. This small amount of blood we related to a terminal event of shock. And the reason is that from the stomach, the contents of what an individual is ingesting go in the intestine. And we did not find blood in the intestine, but we found some intestinal contents. So it means that what is the blood occurred very shortly before the death.

We didn't find in the stomach any kind of tablets or pills. And we did not find evidence by the naked eye, by the gross (ph) examination that was chronic abuse.

However, at this time, as I said, our findings are limited to what we are able to see with our eyes. We don't have -- we are not Superman or Superwoman -- because there are women working in our office. And we don't have the capability of making determination of a chemical nature or of a microscopic nature.




QUESTION: Chief Tiger, what about the rumors that when paramedics arrived in the room, they witnessed Mr. Stern flushing the toilet? Could (INAUDIBLE), sir?

TIGER: None of our officers that arrived on the scene saw anything like that at all.

QUESTION: How about the paramedics?

TIGER: They didn't see anything like that also.

QUESTION: Chief, are you guys going to be releasing that 911 call?

TIGER: The call that came into our office, we're not going to release at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right over here.

QUESTION: Doctor, is it possible for someone to have died from an overdose if you do not find any pills in her stomach?


QUESTION: Still possible?

PERPER: It's possible. As I said at this point, we do not -- I don't have any information one way or another which I can reliable relate to you. That's what I explained. Usually, we don't do this kind of press conferences, but because I wanted to prevent rumor from spreading and particularly rumors which are incorrect. I wanted to make you know what our findings and that additional findings will come as the tests will come in.

QUESTION: Doctor, based on the body temperature at the hospital, could she have been dead for hours before?

PERPER: No. And the reason is that according to our information at the time when the medics came to the scene, the body was warm and there were no indication that a long time occurred since the body was found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the yellow down there.

QUESTION: Sir, we're hearing that the body has to be preserved until February 20th. How does that impact the autopsy?

PERPER: Well, it didn't impact the autopsy, just the other way around. In other words, we performed the autopsy. We took a large number of samples for various tests and at this time, from our end, the body is ready for release to the proper legal custodian, OK?

My understanding is that there might be a number of people who are interested in having the body kept in the medical examiner's office until some legal issue are resolved and, obviously, we are going to cooperate with the courts in this regard.

QUESTION: Do you know what the funeral plans are?

PERPER: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Do you know what the funeral plans are? Where the body is going?

PERPER: Not yet. But that's information which is ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Right here in the green.

QUESTION: Dr. Perper, how long about the autopsy take from beginning to end? And also, there was a court today that asked for the body to be held for 10 days until there could be a trial. Will the body to be held here?

PERPER: The first question?

QUESTION: How long did the autopsy take?

PERPER: Well it's hard to say because if we start from the very test which was started until we ended, we started about 9:30 and we just finished, so approximately six hours.

QUESTION: And also will the body be held here for the 10 days until the court hearing?

PERPER: We always comply with court orders and we try to be cooperative with the family. If we are going to be asked, we will do that for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the back behind the camera.

QUESTION: Doctor, are the prescription drugs she was taking, were any of them lethal enough to have killed her if you took a mass quantity of them?

PERPER: I had this question before and what I answered is a mass quantity means a large amounts of pills. When somebody takes a large amount of pills and dies as a result of it, usually found some of the pills still in the stomach. We did not see any intact pills in the stomach. We saw only a small amount of blood, which we believe is due to terminal shock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take two more. Down here please.

QUESTION: Were there any signs that she recently had any plastic surgery done, any scarring, any bruising from any recent things that may have gone on, and that's why?

PERPER: Yes, there was some indication. I don't think it's relevant. No, there was long-term surgery, nothing recent.

QUESTION: Oh, nothing more recent?

PERPER: Nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question right here.

QUESTION: You mentioned that she had been sick for several days with the stomach flu. Was there anything else unusual that had happened in those days leading up to this? And also did she spend the day in bed or was she up and about?

PERPER: My understand -- one of the thing which I mentioned that I'm going to do and I did not do yet is not just review the medical records but to speak with the witnesses who took care of her. So this is a legitimate question which I'm going to ask.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over here in the purple.

QUESTION: You mentioned no pills in the stomach, but could she have had some sort of liquid and/or inhaled something that could have caused it?

PERPER: Well, we are going to check those possibilities because we are going to test the stomach content and as with an inhalant, we are going to test the lungs for any inhalants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, do you know why...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over here in the red.

QUESTION: I don't know if this has been asked but you say there were prescribed medication, right?


QUESTION: There was prescribed medication?

PERPER: Right.

QUESTION: Was it in her name or someone else's name?

PERPER: I did not see it myself. I cannot answer the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief Tiger, do you want to know whether or not she was prescribed the medications that were in her room?

TIGER: We'll find that out through our investigation. It's still ongoing.

QUESTION: Chief, what was in those bags you removed yesterday? Those bags you took out yesterday? What was in those bags?

TIGER: Evidence from the scene.

QUESTION: Why did she have a private nurse?

TIGER: We're not ready to discuss that right now.

QUESTION: Chief, why did she have a private nurse with her?

PERPER: As I explained to you, there are additional information which has to be elicited from the people who took care of her. There was a nurse apparently also in the room or close to her. I'm going to question this nurse as to what happened.

QUESTION: Hasn't he questioned the nurse? Hasn't he already or the police department? The question is, why did she have a private nurse.

PERPER: But I'm going to question. There are two types of questioning. There is medical questioning and non medical questioning. The police did its own non medical questioning. I'll do the medical one and I'm going to ask all of the proper questions and this is the ...

QUESTION: ... My question is simply why did she have a private nurse with her at the time?

PERPER: Sir, I don't know at this time because I didn't speak.

QUESTION: Dr. Perper, do you know? Do you know why she had a private nurse?

TIGER: Again, the case is still ongoing, we're not going to release any other information, thank you very much.

QUESTION: Where is Howard Stern tonight, sir?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Would you characterize the amount of drugs that were found as excessive for one person?

PERPER: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Would you characterize the amount of drugs that were found in her room as excessive for one person?

PERPER: I didn't make this determination. I don't know, I didn't look at the fact -- and the fact is that people sometimes have medication which they have for long time and they don't take them.

QUESTION: Large amount?

PERPER: This is something which, again, has to be determined, yes. The problem is not how many medication are in the bottles. The problem or the significant thing is how many medication are in her body. Whatever is in the bottle, it's irrelevant. But what is in her body is very significant.

QUESTION: From what you've seen of the types of those pills in combination, could it have been lethal?

PERPER: I -- if you -- combination of any drugs in the body, if you have five bottles of drugs, you are going to take everything in the bottle, you'll get in trouble. It's not a legitimate question.

QUESTION: Doctor Perper, do you know why a doctor visited Anna earlier this week?

PERPER: I do not know because I did not review yet the medical records.

Part of the investigation, part of the information which has to be obtained in order to solve the puzzle is exactly her medical condition, the kind of procedure which she had, the kind of medication that she took, how much she was prescribed.

All this is pertinent information but, at this time, is not available. As I said, this press conference is done in order for you to know what we found and to really stop rumors.

QUESTION: But you will be reviewing the medical records?

PERPER: Absolutely. I'm sorry?

QUESTION: You said you will cooperate fully with the court. Is that with all courts in the country?

PERPER: I do not discriminate between the courts because then the courts will discriminate me and call me in contempt, not interested. I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Are there any complications (INAUDIBLE) having to deal with Florida?

PERPER: I understand. The question between conflict of law between the state of Florida and other state doesn't have to be resolved by me. The county very graciously provides me with legal counsel and they will have to take care of it.

QUESTION: How many different medications were found in the body?

PERPER: How many what?

QUESTION: How many different medications were found in the body?

PERPER: I cannot give you a list now. Something to review. There were a number of them.


QUESTION: Sir, are you leaning towards (INAUDIBLE) or accidental?


QUESTION: Doctor, one more question please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you.

QUESTION: Where is Howard Stern?

LEMON: OK, that was Dr. Joshua Perper. He is the chief doctor at the medical examiner's office in Broward County, Florida holding a press conference there. Also Chief Charlie Tiger from the Seminole Police Department just holding a press conference there. We have every resource available to us here at CNN working this story.

Our Elizabeth Cohen, who is our medical correspondent can answer some of the questions about the drugs. They talked about the prescription drugs found in the hotel room and then we also have Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst, who's going to weigh in in just a little bit.

We'll turn now to Elizabeth Cohen to talk about -- basically what I got from this is that he's saying we can rule out any sort of blunt trauma as a cause of death for Anna Nicole Smith but, otherwise, we need to wait three to five weeks until he is completely examined the body and the toxicology reports have returned?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You got that right. Dr. Perper is leaving the field wide open, he is saying that he does not know it will take weeks to figure this out, but he did say no trauma, no blunt force, no one asphyxiated her. He also said that there were no illegal drugs in her system, but there were prescription drugs.

Now he did not name what those were and even when reporters asked, he said that he didn't have the list, which I thought was interesting. He also said that there were no pills found in her stomach, in other words, they weren't still there.

And a reporter asked, well does that mean you can rule out an overdose? And he said no, that does not mean I can rule out a overdose. So the way that Dr. Perper, the medical examiner in Florida, in Broward County, Florida put it, is he said look, this could be a solely natural death. This could be a death because of medicine or chemicals or it could be a combination of the two. So that's leaving it about as wide open as you can.

LEMON: And of course he did not say this, but earlier, our Susan Candiotti told us about some of the -- according to sources, some of the prescription drugs that were found. Valium and some cold medication and she was suffering, according to the medical examiner, she had been feeling ill and I don't know had gone to the hospital or someone had examined her. And so that's sort of what took place over the past couple of days before she died.

COHEN: Right and so when you hear Valium, you immediately think, gee, does that have something to do with it?

LEMON: You'd have to take a lot of Valium.

COHEN: You would have to take a lot of Valium. I was talking to a doctor, to a pharmacologist and I said, how easy is it to OD on Valium and he said it is very, very hard. There is a huge margin of error. It's not like barbiturates, where you can just sort of make a little bit of a mistake and you can be in trouble. You really have to work hard to overdose on Valium. Although, it certainly would be easier to get into trouble if you were already sick.

And I think that's something to keep in mind here, that she was already sick. Her body was already slowing down and if there were -- we know that she was taking prescription drugs -- that can sometimes be a combination that doesn't always work well.

But we don't know. Dr. Perper didn't answer that question.

LEMON: Elizabeth Cohen, so nice to have you here for situations like that. Thank you so much for that. Again, he's saying three major possibilities. Natural causes, medication or chemical or a combination of the two.

COHEN: Right. Leaves it wide open.

LEMON: All right, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

NGUYEN: Well, as we try to sort all of this out, there is of course more. Anna Nicole Smith had the Supreme Court on her side, but now that she's dead, what happens to the battle over her late husband's billion dollar estate?

We're going to ask Jeff Toobin next right here in the NEWSROOM.


DR. JOSHUA PERPER, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Basically, there are three major possibilities. One is the death is due solely to natural causes. The other possibility is the death might be due to some medication or chemicals. And the third possibility is that there is a combination of natural causes and medication and, at this time, we do not have the results of the test which would permit us to make this determination.


NGUYEN: And that was the Broward County Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Joshua Perper. Three people now publicly claim to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby daughter and there could be a lot of money at stake depending on how much Smith estate inherits or doesn't inherit from her second husband.

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here to help us sort all of this out. Jeffrey, you've got a tough job ahead of you. Let's start with this. If Anna Nicole and the biological father were not married, does that mean her estate would go to the baby and the father?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Not necessarily. The first thing you have to determine is did she leave a will? My guess is, based on everything I've heard, is that she didn't leave a will.

She led a pretty chaotic life and most people in their thirties don't think about leaving a will anyway.

NGUYEN: Well and if she did, what was her state of mind when she signed that will?

TOOBIN: Well, that's possible. But certainly wills are presumptively valid if it exists, but chances are it doesn't exist. Then you have to ask the question, was she married to anybody? Because even if there is no will in any state, a spouse has certain legal rights if a spouse dies. If there is no valid marriage, that is when things start to get very complicated.

NGUYEN: Well, Howard K. Stern says they had this ceremony in the Bahamas where he claims they were married.

TOOBIN: Right. And that will be one of the things to be looked at.

The question then who is her valid heir? It may that her only valid heir is her 4-month-old child. Obviously, a 4-month-old child can't assert any legal rights, so a judge will would have to appoint a guardian. A key question in appointing a guardian is who is the father?

That is one of the few areas here where there is likely to be a definitive answer because DNA testing can establish who the father is. That certainly seems like it will be done in the relatively near future. And whoever turns out to be the father will certainly have some legal rights for custody, at a minimum and also for some sort of control of the estate.

Keep in mind that, you know, for all that Anna Nicole Smith has been portrayed as a fortune hunter, having married this, you know, very old billionaire, she has never seen a dime of that money or she never saw a dime of that money in her lifetime. It's still tied up in court. It looks at this point that her estate will receive, at a minimum, $88 million, but it may be as much as several hundred million dollars more.

NGUYEN: But to be very clear, Jeff, her estate, the child, someone on behalf of the child can continue this court battle over the $1.5 billion, correct?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. When a party to any sort of litigation dies, the right to continue that litigation belongs to the heirs of that person. The question now is who are her heirs? Is there a spouse? Is there a will? Is there someone who has a legitimate claim other than her 5-month-old daughter. That is something that the courts are going to have to sort out. And it's an incredibly complicated decision.

NGUYEN: Yes, it is. And It could take years, Jeff Toobin.

TOOBIN: Well, her litigation has already taken 12 years.

NGUYEN: Right, exactly.

TOOBIN: So it could be a similar amount of time.

NGUYEN: Well, we will be watching. Jeff Toobin, CNN legal analyst, we appreciate your time.

LEMON: All right, Jeff and Betty, this new video just coming into from us. This is from Don King Productions. This was taken last week. Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole Smith at a boxing event that Don King was promoting in Florida. You can see pictures of Anna Nicole Smith there with Don King. There's also some later photos here that we will get to of her hanging out with Hulk Hogan, who is the former wrestler. This was taken at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the same one at which Anna Nicole Smith died or was found at least unconscious in her hotel and then taken to the hospital. So there is hulk hogan there.

But this is believed to be the last photographs public appearance of Anna Nicole Smith with her companion and lover, Howard K. Stern. There was one there with Reverend Al Sharpton as well. I think I saw Tom Joyner.

NGUYEN: I saw Tom Joyner in one of those pictures.

LEMON: Radio host Tom Joyner there.

But there you go. As they say, life is for the living and Anna Nicole certainly lived a very interesting, interesting life and hung out with celebrities and really made a name for herself.

NGUYEN: And unfortunately, her death has become so very interesting as well with all of the circumstances that have surround not only the questions about what caused her death, but the questions about who is the father of her child and the estate, who will inherit that. So we'll try to sort all of this out as the news comes in.

LEMON: Absolutely. Just had a press conference, you're looking at new video here, the last public appearance, the press conference moments ago just happened in Florida about her autopsy. Let's turn it over now to "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer.


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