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CNN NEWSROOM

Anna Nicole Smith Autopsy Report; Standoff With Iran; Edwards Standing Firm

Aired March 26, 2007 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: In the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown this hour.
A mystery revealed. Anna Nicole Smith autopsy results. Delayed for weeks, released this hour.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Setting a timetable for troop withdrawal. The House had its say on Iraq today. The Senate starts debate.

HARRIS: And a familiar side on balconies and in backyards. Police say barbecue grills played a part in a gruesome killing. It is Monday, March 26th, and you are in the NEWSROOM.

And our top story this hour, answers in the Anna Nicole Smith case. Minutes from now, autopsy results are due to be released. It's been six weeks since the former Playboy playmate was found unconscious in her Florida hotel room. Initial results only added to the mystery. No serious injuries and some inflammation of her heart. Let's get the latest on this developing story. CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is in Ft. Lauderdale.

Susan, good morning to you.

Is it true the coroner has known for weeks what killed Anna Nicole Smith?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least a couple of weeks, Tony, that's right. But he decided to keep his answers under wraps because of new evidence that he received from the Seminole Police via some other people who had access to Anna Nicole Smith's computer, as well as her diary. And the medical examiner said he wanted to go over this new information to see whether anything he might find in the computer, in the diary, might change his opinion.

Well, soon we will learn, was her death an accident, was her death a suicide, or was it a homicide. A law enforcement source has told us that no evidence of any crime has been found. So that certainly appears to leave the first two possibilities.

We do know this. Anna Nicole Smith was very, very sick in the days before she died. She was found unconscious in a hotel room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino back on February the 8th. And a number of prescription drugs, some in her name, some in the name of her partner, Howard K. Stern, were found in that hotel room. Now her death, of course, is not the only unresolved question. We still don't know, for people who have been following this for week now, we still do not know who is the father of her baby Dannielynn who is currently in the Bahamas in the care of Howard K. Stern. Remember that Anna Nicole Smith's ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, claims that he is the natural father and there is a paternity suit battle going on over that. We do expect to hear reaction to the autopsy results from a lawyer representing Howard K. Stern this afternoon. They have scheduled a news conference on his behalf.

And if after all of this, if you have not yet had your fill of her life, which has just been described as a great tragedy, well, a movie is under production about the life of Anna Nicole Smith.

Tony, back to you.

HARRIS: Saw that one coming. All right, Susan, we will see you at the bottom of the hour. The Anna Nicole Smith autopsy report due out in minutes. We will break it down with a forensic pathologist right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: British troops at the center of a tense standoff. Iran is holding 15 British sailors and marines after seizing them on a disputed waterway. Britain demands their release but Iran isn't bulging. CNN's Aneesh Raman tracking the story now in Tehran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fifteen British marines and sailors remain in Iranian custody, transported over the weekend, we understand, to the capital Tehran. A top Iranian military commander has said all the British military personnel have confessed to illegally entering Iranian waters. No further information was given about those confessions, but Iranians say they also have evidence to back that charge.

The British government, for its part, continues to maintain its military personnel were in Iraqi, not Iranian waters when they were seized by members of Iran's elite revolutionary guard on Friday. Iran has rejected that British explanation and has called this an act of "blatant aggression." There is no sense as to when these British military personnel will be released. A similar incident that took place in June 2004 saw British military personnel seized by Iran but released within three days.

The sense on the ground is that the atmosphere has certainly changed. Iran has just been sanctioned again over the nuclear defiance and five Iranians remain in coalition custody within Iraq. Because of that, hardliners within Iran are calling for a trial of the British military personnel, who they want to be charged with espionage.

They are putting pressure on the country's foreign ministry to do that. The foreign ministry, of course, is also getting external pressure from neighboring countries to release the British military personnel. Most recently from Iraq's foreign minister. The days ahead will determine where Iran is going to take this case. Whether we will see a quick release of the British military personnel or perhaps a trial.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: The United Nations tightening the screws on Iran over the nuclear program. The Security Council voting to impose a second round of sanction on Tehran for its failure to suspend its enrichment of uranium. The vote, unanimous. In Tehran, an immediate rejection of the sanctions and Iranian leaders announce a partial suspension of cooperation with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of carrying out a secret nuclear weapons program. Iran say the program is strictly peaceful.

HARRIS: New details this morning in the assassination attempt on Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie. Al-Zubaie's office says Friday's attack was facilitated by one of the minister's own body guards. The Sunni leader was wounded and nine other people were killed in the attack. Al-Zubaie's office says the bodyguard helped the suicide bomber get inside the minister's compound. The guard fled the scene. His whereabouts are now unknown. A terrorist group linked to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Word that five more Americans have been killed in Iraq. The military says four task force lightning soldier were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in Diyaia Province yesterday. Another soldier was killed in a blast northwest of Baghdad. And in the southern city of Basra, a military spokesman says one British soldier was wounded when a bomb hit his patrol. Meanwhile, officials report that attacks in and around Baghdad have killed several people.

The battle over the war in Iraq, that's the focus in the Senate today. Lawmakers expected to begin debate on a war spending bill that calls for a pullout of U.S. troops by March of next year. Republicans and Democrats are at odds over the measure. Last week, the House passed a different version of the bill. It sets an August 31, 2008, deadline to withdraw from Iraq. It is binding. The Senate's deadline is not. President Bush has promised to veto any measure setting a timetable to bring the troops home.

COLLINS: Elizabeth Edwards in Cleveland today where she'll talk about her battle with cancer. She wasted no time returning to the campaign trail after announcing her cancer had returned. CNN's Mary Snow is in Cleveland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This will mark the first time Elizabeth Edwards will speak publicly since announcing her cancer had spread. She'll be speaking at the City Club of Cleveland. An event scheduled several weeks ago. But organizers say since late last week, the phones haven't stopped ringing of people trying to get in. John and Elizabeth Edwards' very personal cancer battle is front and center in an unprecedented public arena, the presidential campaign trail. Their choice to continue his presidential run has brought both support and criticism. At a Democratic presidential forum in Nevada over the weekend, Edwards was asked about the decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to people who are thinking about supporting you, are thinking about contributing to your campaign, but are really worried about your ability to take care of two all-consuming things at one time? Will you be in this race for the duration?

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I'm definitely in the race for the duration.

SNOW: In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," Edwards was steadfast in his decision to run, welcoming the scrutiny.

J. EDWARDS: When you offer yourself up for service to the country as the president of the United States, you deserve to be evaluated. I am perfectly open to that evaluation.

SNOW: John and Elizabeth Edwards say they've dealt with personal crisis before. Elizabeth Edwards was diagnose with breast cancer in 2004 when her husband ran for vice president alongside John Kerry. In 1996, the couple's oldest son, Wade, was killed in a car accident. In that same CBS "60 Minutes" interview, Elizabeth Edwards passionately explained why she wouldn't want her husband to pull out of the race.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: That would be my legacy, wouldn't it, Katie, that I'd taken out this fine man from the possibility of giving a great service. I mean, I don't want that to be my legacy.

SNOW: Another part of Elizabeth Edwards' legacy will be dealing with cancer treatments for stage four breast cancer, while raising two young children and stomping for her husband. She says she'll scale back on campaign duties if necessary, but expects to be out on the trail. Some doctors say that can help.

DR. RUTH O'REGAN, WINSHIP CANCER INST., EMORY UNIVERSITY: In many cases, patients who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer actually do better mentally when they keep themselves busy.

SNOW: And in that CBS interview, Elizabeth Edwards was asked about any new information she may have learned about her cancer. She indicated that the cancer may have spread to her hip. She said there are a couple of hot spots being watched.

Mary Snow, CNN, Cleveland, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: White House Spokesman Tony Snow undergoing surgery today to remove what's described as a small growth in his abdomen. Snow says the procedure is being done out of caution because he had colon cancer two years ago. And he says tests have been negative for cancer so far. Today's surgery is not a minor procedure and is expected to keep Snow away from the White House for several weeks.

HARRIS: Is your preschooler in child care right now? A new report is raising new questions about the long-term impact. Details ahead in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Also, powerful storms rumble along the Texas-New Mexico state line. Now a lot of cleanup ahead. A look at the damage in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And the Anna Nicole Smith autopsy report due out within minutes. We will break it down with a forensic pathologist right here in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: You're in the NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins.

A tragic loss on the battlefield. Now the Army is called to account for the aftermath of Pat Tillman's death. New details ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

A gruesome killing and a barbecue grill. What police say links the two. That's coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Want to go ahead and show you these pictures now as we are awaiting that news conference on Anna Nicole Smith's autopsy. We are actually going to be hearing from the medical examiner who made some decisions regarding the cause of death here. We do not know, of course, what those findings are but we're going to continue to follow this for you out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and bring it to you just as soon as it happens.

HARRIS: Spring rains causing problems in Indiana, but the worst appears to be over. This scene in Hamilton County, north of Indianapolis. Heavy rains sent waters across several roads in the region. Homeowners also piled up sandbags as the water rose. Today, the flood waters are expected to recede.

And just days into spring, strong thunderstorms roll across parts of the country. Clean-up now getting underway after more than a dozen tornadoes swept along the New Mexico-Texas state line. The twisters destroyed homes and businesses and injured several people. The New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, you saw him there just a moment ago, took a first-hand look at some of the damage. This funnel cloud spotted in the sky over Lubbock, Texas. There's no word on whether it touched down or caused any damage. Let's check in with Chad Myers now in the Weather Center.

What's the story like today, Chad?

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: You see it every day at suburban cookouts, but it's part of a crime scene in Texas this morning. Houston police say a man used two barbecue grills to burn the body of his former girlfriend after he had strangled and dismembered her. Timothy Shepherd is charge with murder and is being held on $250,000 bond. Police say Shepherd confessed to killing Tynesha Stewart. They say he was upset because she had started a new relationship.

HARRIS: The Anna Nicole Smith autopsy report due out in a matter of minutes. We will break it down with a forensic pathologist. That's next, coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Let's take a look at the numbers now, if you can stand it. Down 92 points there for the Dow Jones Industrial average, already this morning. Resting at 12,387 for now. We're going to continue to watch that. The Nasdaq also down about 11 points. One of the big stories out there in the business world today, Citigroup Incorporated are -- it's kind of having to consider some job cuts. Something like 15,000 possibly. So we'll talk about that a little bit later in the show.

HARRIS: What do you say we take everyone to Ft. Lauderdale now, Heidi. At any moment, new insights into the death of Anna Nicole Smith. The medical examiner in south Florida is about to release autopsy results.

It has been six weeks since the former Playboy playmate died. She was found unconscious in her hotel room in south Florida. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is located on tribal land. So the Seminole Police Department is investigating the case. Her death came five months after her 20-year-old son died at her bedside. Both deaths have fueled wild speculation. Tomorrow an inquest is to get underway into Daniel Smith's death.

COLLINS: We've asked forensic pathologist Dr. Bruce Levy to help us sort out some of the details of this autopsy. He is Tennessee's chief medical examiner. He's joining us now this morning from Nashville.

Thanks for being with us, doctor.

DR. BRUCE LEVY, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Glad to be here.

COLLINS: If you could, based on what you know right now from the medical examiner's initial findings, what do you see here as a possible cause of death?

LEVY: Well, I think we're really dealing with three things. We're either dealing with a drug overdose, some type of natural death, or a combination of the two.

COLLINS: And so that being said, there were some interesting things that were discovered. And you kind of touched on them in speaking with you before the program, about the type of drugs that she was taking. The form in which she was administering them to her body. Mostly being liquids.

LEVY: Right. A lot of them seemed to be liquids. I mean there are rumors going on about chlorahydrate. One of the things about chlorahydrate is that it is in liquid form and it's useful for both children and adults who may not want to take pills. Methadone is also a liquid. I believe some of the other medications were liquid for her to inject. So, you know, she may have had a preference to take her medications not in pill form.

COLLINS: Of course, we haven't heard any of this, you know, definitely yet from Dr. Perper, who is the medical examiner here. But why would that be? Why would a person rather take -- I mean I don't know about me. I'm not taking an injection if I don't have to. But could we be talking about some allergies here? Or what's likely the case?

LEVY: Well, you know, some people just don't like swallowing pills. And, you know, if you can find another form to take that medication in, you know, people will just prefer to do it that way.

COLLINS: Perhaps one of the things we should talk about here, though, Dr. Levy, is certainly how the police ended up going back to the medical examiner's office with some new information. Some of this information that our reporter on the ground, Susan Candiotti, was discussing with us, from the computer, from the diary. How does that affect what the medical examiner might ultimately deem as the cause of death?

LEVY: Well, what's interesting is when you start thinking about that sort of information, you really start leaning towards intent. Now was there an intent here to take too much medication, which would then make you believe that this could be a suicide. Or is this an accidental -- if we're dealing with medications here, obviously -- is it accidental or is it intentional. A diary or a personal computer may have personal information in that that lets you focus in on a manner of death rather than a cause of death.

COLLINS: As we await this press conference coming up here in about, oh, five or six minutes or so, Dr. Levy, do us a favor and walk us through a little bit. I mean it's very much like putting together pieces of a puzzle when you are doing an autopsy, when you are trying to determine cause of death. Can you briefly take us through what happens in this sort of process?

LEVY: Well, really, it's a multi-faceted process. You really start with history. Not very different than the history you would get when you go to your doctor's office. We would collect information. So the medical examiner is going to collect historical information, what medication information there is, what do we know about this person's medical history or their social history.

We would then move on to actually examine the body. We would do an autopsy, which is a systemic examination of the outside and inside of the body, all the major organ systems. In this case, specimens of blood would be sent for testing for toxicology. We would also collect small pieces of tissue to examine under the microscope. We then put all that information together and work typically with our own investigators or with law enforcement to collect some of that historical data and then put it all together and determine a cause of death.

COLLINS: Yes, because I just asked the question because it has been, you know, six weeks since her death. So I just, obviously, want to make sure everybody understands what a lengthy process this can sometimes be.

LEVY: It is.

COLLINS: We certainly appreciate your expertise in all of this. Dr. Bruce Levy, thank you.

LEVY: Thank you.

HARRIS: Let's take a moment now to bring in our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, who is in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with us this morning.

And, Susan, we are just a couple of minutes away from the scheduled start of this news conference. Again, I think you had an opportunity to hear a little bit of what Dr. Levy had to say. What are we expecting to hear from Dr. Perper this morning.

CANDIOTTI: Well, I did hear one bit of new information, Tony, just confirmed, according to a source close to the investigation, that the cause of death is a drug overdose. Now we cannot say with complete certainty whether it is going to be ruled accidental or suicide at this point. We will have to wait for the news conference to confirm that piece of information for you.

But we do know, of course, that in her hotel room, that all kinds of prescription drugs were found, not only in Anna Nicole Smith's name, but also in the name of Howard K. Stern, found in the hotel room. And that she had been sick for several days. Also her bodyguard, who has known her for years now, did report multiple times after her death that Anna Nicole Smith had been severely depressed over the death of her son Daniel, who is now buried by her side in the Bahamas.

I'd like to briefly show you, if you could pan over here, more and more people have been gathering in the last few hours. And now with only minutes to go before the press conference is scheduled to begin, you can see all of the cameras, all of the reporters, all of the producers. You even have some people who live in this neighborhood. Actually a residential neighborhood across the street from the medical examiner's office. So many people have come to also hear for themselves what the final autopsy results will be.

Of course, this is just one of many unanswered questions that remain about her death. The most notable being who is the natural father of her daughter Dannielynn. Is it Howard K. Stern, whose name is on the birth certificate, or is it Larry Birkhead, the ex-boyfriend who has filed a paternity suit. But first and foremost, we will be learning not only the cause of death but the manner of death. Was it an accident or was the drug overdose suicide?

HARRIS: And, Susan, who are we expecting to hear from this morning? I know we're going to hear from the county's medical examiner. But we're also going to hear from the Seminole Police chief and maybe you can explain to folks why that's the case.

CANDIOTTI: It's because the hotel, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, is located, a you indicated earlier, on tribal land. And so this police department, Seminole Indians, very, very small but with assistance from the Broward Sheriff's Office, has been the lead investigator on this case. And we do know from a law enforcement official that they have found no evidence that any crime has been committed. But it will be interesting to hear, Tony, that as we hear about the number of drugs that were found in her system, whether ultimately someone in her life might file a civil action if indeed there is no cause for any criminal charges.

HARRIS: All right, Susan, I see that the principles are walking up to the microphones now. Why don't we just listen in.

DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: Good morning. My name is Joshua Perper and I am the chief medical examiner for Broward County.

Now, I have with me today Chief Charlie Tiger, the chief of the Seminole Police Department. And also with me Dr. Steven Sena (ph), who is the deputy chief medical examiner, Dr. (INAUDIBLE), with whom I did the autopsy. And Dr. Harold Shultz (ph), our chief toxicologist.

I want to thank the chief for his close cooperation, the access which he gave to his records of the investigation, and the fact that he permitted us to review the two laptop computers, which belonged to Anna Nicole Smith -- chief.

CHIEF CHARLIE TIGER, SEMINOLE POLICE: Thank you, Dr. Perper. Good morning.

This has been a long, long investigation. And we've come to a conclusion finally. As you know my name is Charlie Tiger, chief police for the Seminole Police Department. It's been a little more than six weeks since the death of Anna Nicole Smith. During that time detectives of the Seminole Police Department conducted a thorough investigation into her unexplained death. Our detectives interviewed numerous individuals involved in the case, and we found them to be cooperative. The Broward Sheriff's Crime Scene Unit completed a thorough investigation of the case of the death of this -- of the scene of the death and found no evidence of ill legal drugs. We have reviewed hundreds of hours of video, tape captured by the hotel security cameras, and we found nothing unusual.

We analyzed the contents of the laptop computer belonging to Mr. Stern with the approval of his attorney, and we found nothing to indicate any foul play. We are convinced a based on extensive review of the evidence that this case is an accidental overdose with no other criminal element present. The investigation has been carried out with the full cooperation and participation of the office of the Broward County state attorney. We have worked closely with the Royal Bahamian police force. We have been in close cooperation with the Broward medical examiner, Dr. Joshua Perper, who I want to thank for his ongoing commitment and professionalism. Today's release by Dr. Perper of the cause of death closes the case on the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any questions?

QUESTION: Yes. You said it was an accidental overdose, but that would be prescription medication as opposed to...

TIGER: Dr. Perper is going to tell you that information in his release. Thank you.

Pardon me?

QUESTION: ... that was found in the room you were looking at in this investigation? What type of evidence did you use in determining...

TIGER: Any evidence at all related to the case, we collected. Bob Kransey (ph) collected that.

QUESTION: Bottom line, does this mean Howard Stern will not be charged with murder or any crime at all?

TIGER: At this point, yes.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what you were looking for on Howard K. Stern's laptop computer?

TIGER: Anything that might help us determine the cause of death.

QUESTION: Chief...

TIGER: I can't hear you, sir.

QUESTION: The results were going to be announced a couple of weeks ago. But Dr. Ferber (ph) delayed it. It was because of new evidence that you presented him. What was that evidence? And why did it affect...

TIGER: It was two computers that we had in our possession.

QUESTION: Chief, you looked into who prescribed these medications? Is there anything pending regarding...

TIGER: I think Dr. Perper has that information. I'll take two more questions. Go ahead, sir.

QUESTION: Is there anything on that computer related to this case? I know you said there was nothing suggesting criminal activity. Was there anything on the computers related to the case at all?

TIGER: Dr. Perper looked at that the computer, and he'll have that information for you, I think.

QUESTION: There was no probable cause but one thing the computer -- how were you able to get inside?

TIGER: We got permission from his attorney.

Thank you very much.

PERPER: Thank you very much, chief. I would also like to thank Sheriff Ken Jenning (ph), the Broward County sheriff and his officer, for helping us in this case and basically watching our office 24 hours a day for more than a month, and helping us in many other ways, and we are truly very grateful for this full cooperation. I would like to mention that medical examiners are not soulless. That we are like today under the glare of television camera. We are working with a team, and the forensic team is what determines ultimately the quality of the work of the medical examiner. And Broward County is very fortunate to have in the medical examiner's office a number of such excellent teams, and I would be remiss if I wouldn't mention the people who are and work in this investigation team of Anna Nicole Smith and those are the three doctors which I already mentioned, Dr. Sena (ph), Dr. Vist (ph) and Dr. Shuler (ph).

And in addition to that, Dr. Reinhart Morty (ph), who is an associate medical examiner, Mr. Winnard Johnson (ph), which is the chief medical investigator, Wendy Crane (ph), a medical investigator. And now we're out of (INAUDIBLE), the chief autopsy technician, Irman Moten (ph), an autopsy technician, Joe Anderson and Jim Claremont (ph), who are imaging technicians. And certainly the help and the assistance of my invaluable secretary Ms. Sherry Baker (ph).

I would also like to thank the Miami-Dade police department for their computer services section, because without their help we wouldn't have been able to access the laptops and the information which was there, and this was information which now, coming late, was very helpful to our investigation. In addition to that, we've had six outside forensic experts who freely volunteered their services to Broward County, and their contribution was very important, and they were Dr. Steven Nelson, who is a forensic neuropathologist, and the chief medical examiner of Kohl (ph) county, Dr. Michael Bell, who is a forensic cardiologist, and the chief medical examiner of Palm Beach county, Dr. Alzarides Morales (ph), who's the cardiopathologist, and the chairman and professor of pathology in the department of pathology at the University of Miami, Dr. Gordon Dickinson (ph), who is a professor, and the chairman of the Division of the Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami, Dr. Mark Gorison (ph) who is the chairman of the infectious diseases at the Florida branch of Cleveland Clinic, and Dr. Michael Bail (ph), who is an assistant professor of anatomic pathology at the Milton Hershey (ph) Medical Center College of Medicine.

I also want to make sure that you understand that we fully are aware of the loss which family experience when their loved one die and are under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner. And we take a great deal of care in treating the individual who unfortunately dies and are under our jurisdiction as patient, and they receive all the respect which every patient everywhere fully deserves. And we recognize that, like anybody else, they have a general right to privacy because nobody would like to have some aspect of his life exposed to the public.

However, unfortunately people who die and are under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner lose most of their privacy right with the exception of their medical record information and the photographs which we take at the time of the autopsy. And we are fully aware that in disclosing such public information we may cause some aggravation and discomfort to the family.

We are very sorry for that, and for that reason we apologize in advance of the family and friends of Anna Nicole Smith for release of such public information, but this is the law, and we have a clear duty of disclosing fully and truthfully all the public information which is in our possession.

Now, as you know, in the afternoon of Thursday, February the 8th, at about 2:29 in the afternoon, Anna Nicole Smith, a 39-year-old woman, was found dead at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and she was pronounced dead sometime later in the afternoon at the Hollywood Memorial Regional Hospital.

Our information at the time when we did the autopsy was rather sketchy, and we just knew that she arrived three days prior to that in Ft. Lauderdale from the Bahamas and had suffered just from a stomach flu. And we assumed jurisdiction, as I mentioned previously, because this was the death which was unclear, and we did not have really an explanation for it.

And the next day an autopsy was performed by Dr. Gerfrigis (ph) and myself and lasted about six hours. And as I told you before, at the end of the autopsy we really didn't have any really cause of death, except for some minor findings. And during the autopsy we took a large number of tests, for microscopic examination, bacteriological culture, and viral culture, and psychological culture, and most important toxicological, or chemical, analysis.

The microscopic examination of the autopsy finding revealed no evidence of disease which could have explained the death. And at that time, our initial determination was that most likely the death was due to some medication or drug toxicity.

However, we were waiting for the initial information to come in. We -- following that we reviewed numerous medical records, examined many bottles of prescribed medication, interviewed many individuals, including companions of her, treating physicians and other witnesses. And following the witnesses' interviews, we obtained the following background information. I also want to make very clear that the information which I am going to relay to you is not information which comes from the medical records or from privileged sources, because it would be illegal for me to disclose such information. So the information comes solely from the findings of our investigation, from review of the findings which were determined, and from sources which were not privileged.

Now, as the background of information, we knew that Ms. Smith suffered of back and abdominal pain, and she was on a variety of pain medication, including methadone. In addition to that, she was taking a number of anti-anxiety, antidepressant drugs, and a number of drugs, which could be qualified as longevity drugs, or drugs which are sometimes used for weight-reducing purposes, such as human-growth hormone, vitamin B-12, immunoglobulin, the latter by injection in the buttocks and the thigh.

We know that after the death in 1996 of her husband, Howard Marshall, she experienced bouts of depression and had been admitted to Betty Ford Clinic, and unfortunately three days after she delivered a daughter in September 2006, her beloved son Daniel died. And following that she developed severe depression, which gradually decreased over time, and was treated with antidepressant and anti- anxiety drugs.

Ms. Smith was also under the stress of a number of lawsuits. And we were able to reconstruct the following timetable of events preceding the death of Ms. Smith. Before the trip to the United States, during the prior three days, she felt very well, didn't have any kind of evidence of depression. Her appetite was excellent. And her medication included at that time methadone for pain and growth hormone. And also she was on the so-called longevity medication, which I mentioned. And also prior to trip she had injected into her left buttock either growth hormone, vitamin B-12, or immunoglobulin. Those are all so-called longevity drugs.

On the morning of Monday, February 5, 2007, on the day of her air flight to the United States, she felt very good. At 10:00 a.m. she had a dance lesson for a video -- a musical video, which she intended to produce, and also she tried to have a dance lesson, because she intended to participate in some celebration, which was supposed to be occurring in the next day of Trimspa, which was the company for which she was the spokeswoman.

In the early afternoon, she flew to United States in the company of Howard K. Stern, her partner, and Dr. Christine Jurosevic, her psychiatrist friend. During the flight she was very happy and outstanding general spirits, with the exception of the fact that she complained that she had a pain in her buttocks, and she intended to see a doctor. And when arriving in the limo, after arriving to Ft. Lauderdale, she complained of similar pain, but in addition to that she felt very cold, she had chills. And when she arrived to the hotel at about 7:30 p.m., it was found that her temperature was extremely high, was 105-degrees Fahrenheit. She was asked by her friends to go to an emergency room, to a hospital, call 911, and she firmly refused.

So then the psychiatrist friend prescribed and gave her Tamiflu, a medication for flu, an antibiotic, which is called neosporin, antibacterial activity, Cipro, or ciproflaxin, plenty of fluid, and she was placed in an ice tub, and her temperature after that dropped to about 97 degrees. So she felt better. She was given chlorohydrate, which is a sleeping medication, went to sleep until the next morning.

Now, I'm not going to go through the detailed timeline of the next day. You'll find out that in the additional material which is submitted to you.

However, her temperature never went again above 100. And except for some occasionally -- an episode of vomiting she felt relatively well, except for feeling very weak. And basically watched TV during those days.

The next day, Tuesday, was a more difficult day, because she couldn't eat anything, and she had only fluids. But on Wednesday she already felt well enough that she had both breakfast and dinner. And again watched TV and before going to sleep took, again, this chlorohydrate medication.

Now, in the next day, on the last day of her life, which was Thursday, February the 8th, her companion, Mr. Stern, related to us that she woke up in the morning about 10:00 in the morning.

At that time Anna Nicole Smith was awake. She didn't complain of any kind of particular pain, but said that she was very weak, and she asked for his help to the bathroom, which he did. And on the way back she went back to bed and to sleep. Mr. Stern related that he took a shower and left, and saw something in the interim, but basically never checked on her again. And she was still watched by the wife of a gentleman, who was a friend, and also firefighter, and a bodybuilder and a bodyguard, until about 1:30 p.m. And at 1:30 p.m. they found out that she was not responsive, and basically she was dead.

Let me just mention that one of the points which was raised in prior discussion was how long it took before she was taken to the hospital. And there was some question that there was no delay. And I must say that at this time we can confirm that there was not a delay, because our toxicology revealed in her blood and medication, which is called atropine, and atropine is a medication which is very often even in resuscitation procedures. If she would have been dead for a long time, there would have been no way for us to find the atropine in the blood. It meant that the resuscitation had some kind of minimal effect in being able to move the blood through the body.

Now, after the autopsy, as I mentioned, we initiated a number of interviews, and about two days later one of the interviews was extremely important to us, and also the interviews with Dr. Jurosevic (ph) and Mr. Stem (ph). And Dr. Jurosevic reported to us that the pain in the buttock which I mentioned before, and therefore we went back and examined the body again. We did not see on the outside of the body, on the skin, nothing specific in the area except for some non-descript scars.

But when we did the dissection of the buttocks, we found evidence of prior injection in those areas, which were known, with severe scarring and damage or necrosis to the tissue. In addition, in the left buttock, we found multiple abscesses. And one of the abscesses, it was clear there was a hemorrhagic needle track. So it appeared that a needle, basically, went deep enough and perforated one of those abscesses.

We believe, and the infectious diseases experts agree with us, that the episode of very high fever -- 105 -- was most likely due to the fact that, at the time of the perforation of the abscess by the needle, infectious material (INAUDIBLE) infectious organism reached the blood and caused the high fever.

However, when we checked, by bacteriological studies, the blood, we didn't find any evidence of bacteria, which meant that the antibiotic was effective in keeping the infection under control. And additional tests for sepsis, or what's called blood poisoning, were equally negative. So basically she did not have at any time a raging infection, but she had an infection which initially started with what we call a bacteremia, or an invasion of blood by bacteria, which was later on controlled by antibiotics.

At that time, we started to receive additional tests, and none of those tests revealed any drug of addiction, such as opiate, cocaine, fentanil and so on. Methadone was negative in the blood, but was positive in the bile, which indicated that she might have methadone some two, three days prior to that.

What we found, however, were about nine prescription medications in her blood, including three medications which are against anxiety and depression. They are called benzodiazepin, and included klonopin, valium and ativan -- klonopin, valium and ativan -- and also an antihistaminic called benadryl. But they were all in therapeutic levels.

Therefore, at that time, again, the direction of our thinking changed and it looked like she died of natural causes, primarily the infection of the buttocks, because we did not find any kind of drugs in high concentration.

After that, in the third week of the autopsy, we were surprised...

HARRIS: I guess, Heidi, the headline from this came about, oh, 20 minutes ago, from Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger -- Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose -- an accidental overdose with "no criminal elements present," also adding that the case has been closed.

And then, Dr. Joshua Perper began to paint this picture of a stressed-out, depressed and heavily-medicated Anna Nicole Smith. Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole Smith's companion, at this point not facing any criminal charges.

COLLINS: But I thought that was interesting, didn't you -- because, when the reporter asked that question, the police chief said "at this point, no" -- which when you have case closed, seems like he would have said definitively "absolutely not." I'm not sure about that one.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: I suppose you don't want to absolutely rule those things out. But it is sort of interesting that he did say `case closed for now.'

All right. And you have a guest.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. You know, it was fascinating, and yet tragic, when you hear about all the prescription medications that were found in Anna Nicole Smith's body -- nine of them, to be exact, according to the medical examiner there.

So standing by with us now, to talk about a little bit of this, is Dr. Bruce Levy, medical examiner himself for Tennessee.

Dr. Levy, when you listened to that press conference, and Dr. Joshua Perper went through a litany of medications that this woman had been taking -- although all of them therapeutic -- mixing them together, you know, and again, I don't want to speculate here, but, boy, I just can't imagine taking all those meds at the same time.

DR. BRUCE LEVY, TENN. CHIEF MED. EXAMINER: Very, very dangerous. People just don't realize the problems that we can have when you take multiple medications with similar effects, even if they're all in therapeutic range, meaning the amount we would expect it to be in if someone is following the prescription that's been written to them. You know, but three benzodiazepins -- all these drugs have overlapping effects. And you add them up -- and really nobody knows for sure, because we can't test every interaction of every medication. So we don't even know how these things will completely interreact.

But it's a kind of death we see every, every day in a medical examiner's office.

COLLINS: It was pretty interesting, too. I didn't expect to hear what he said about that injection site, her left buttock, I guess, where it had seemed to abscess and she had some pain, and so then the Tamiflu was given because of this 105-degree temperature. That seemed to be effective. Temperature came down to 97.

And yet later, I guess it was two days later, was it not, when she actually died.

LEVY: Right. You know, it appears there's no relationship between it. Looks like Dr. Perper did a very thorough investigation. You know, the antibiotics seemed to have taken care of whatever infectious agent was in that abscess. And you know, really we're just dealing with a drug overdose death.

COLLINS: Just too many drugs. I'm not sure if you heard what I did, but they were antidepressants, methadone, anti-anxiety medications, human growth hormones, vicodin, these longevity drugs, B- 12 and immunoglobulin -- I mean, wow. It is definitely unfortunate.

Dr. Bruce Levy, we appreciate your time here today.

LEVY: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks.

You are in the NEWSROOM, everybody. Good afternoon to you -- good morning, actually, still. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Let's sort of reset what we've learned over the last half hour. Death by overdose: that conclusion from the autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith. The results announced just minutes ago.

Let's get the latest on these developments. CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti was attendiong the news conference and joins us now.

And Susan, we heard it right off the top of the news conference there, from Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger. Let me have you pick it up from there.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, accidental overdose, no foul play, no evidence of any crime having been committed. They looked in her computers -- but what we are finding out, and what Dr. Joshua Perper just mentioned, after you broke away, is that they did find a large amount of chlorahydrate in her system, which is a sleeping medication. But because they found a substantial amount of that drug still left in the hotel room, that is why -- a key reason why he does not think that this was a suicide attempt, and instead was an accidental overdose of a number of drugs that she had been taking.

We learned from Dr. Perper that she was taking at least nine prescription drugs -- anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs. We know and have heard numerous times since her death that this is a woman who was severely depressed, as Dr. Perper put it, after the death of her son, Daniel, which came just three days after the birth of her daughter, Dannielynn.

And so, Anna Nicole Smith, according to the doctor, according to her friends, had very good days, very happy days, but then would also fall into a deep depression. And that is what was happening, in part, while she was here. She was having discomfort from an abscess of a human growth hormone that she had been taking via an injection. We learned also that she had been receiving injections from her partner, according to my sources. Howard K. Stern acknowledged giving her her injections as well.

Now, here is how the Seminole police chief summed up...

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