The seemingly impossible has happened: Anna Nicole Smith has been approved for burial.
Florida's 4th District Court of Appeals has rejected Virgie Arthur's appeal to take custody of her estranged daughter's remains.
The decision clears the way for a Bahamian burial for Smith, which is scheduled to take place Friday at 10:30 a.m.—three weeks and one day since Smith's death on Feb. 8.
In its written opinion, made public Wednesday afternoon, the panel declared that being buried alongside her son in the a Nassau cemetery was Smith's "last ascertainable wish."
"This finding is not essentially disputed," the panel said.
"You know, the law doesn't have a heart but judges do, and I think that finally they made the right decision," Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said following the ruling, going on to describe what will be happening to Smith's remains, now that they're finally destined for a final resting place.
"A number of embalmers will come from the funeral home," Perper said. "They will view the body and they will prepare the body for shipping. In other words the body has to be unfrozen, then cosmetics have to be applied on the face. The body has to be dressed in proper clothing and then put in a casket for transportation."
Perper also said that he was unsure whether the body would hold up to a viewing, but was hopeful that Smith's remains are "in such condition that a second viewing will be possible."
Arthur attorney Tom Pirtle said Wednesday that his client will not challenge the appellate court's ruling.
"It's going to be difficult to appeal the ruling, so we're not going to appeal," he said.
Arthur's other attorney, Roberta G. Mandel, had said earlier that she was prepared to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The decision came just hours after the court heard arguments from all sides to determine whether to uphold or overturn Judge Larry Seidlin's ruling last Thursday granting daughter Dannielynn and her guardian ad litem, Richard Milstein, control of Smith's body.
Arthur disputed the ruling last week, asking the appellate court to grant her next-of-kin status, and all its rights, instead. She was seeking to have Smith buried in Texas.
On Tuesday, attorneys for Smith's partner, Howard K. Stern, as well as for Milstein, filed motions of their own, requesting that the appellate body uphold Seidlin's decision and allow Smith to be buried in the Bahamas.
A three-judge panel, comprised of Justices Barry Stone, Mark Polen and George Shahood, heard the arguments in a brief morning session. Mandel, was granted 20 minutes to argue her case, while lawyers for Stern and Milstein were granted 10 minutes each.
Arthur, Stern and Milstein were all present in the courtroom, but this time around, they left the talking to their attorneys. Larry Birkhead, ordinarily a staple at Smith hearings, was not present, though two attorneys for Birkhead were in the courtroom.
Mandel kicked off the proceedings by claiming that Seidlin had "cherry-picked" Florida statutes to declare Milstein, via Dannielynn, Smith's next of kin. She also based her argument for not burying Smith in the Bahamas on the fact that the late model never expressly wrote down a provision for where she wanted to be buried.
It was an argument the appeals court seemed to take issue with almost immediately.
"If she purchased a burial plot in the Bahamas, why wouldn't that be written evidence?" they asked.
They further said that it was clear—and that even Arthur herself had to acknowledge—that Smith's final intent, taking into account both the buying of her burial plot and the fact that she buried her late son in the country, was to be buried in the Bahamas.
The judges also said that the wants of the decedent "should be declared paramount even over an expressed will provision."
As for Mandel, she said that she "didn't dispute the facts. [But] the law requires a written proviso."
"Your honors, if this weren't Anna Nicole Smith, the hearing would've been over within a half hour," she said, adding that Milstein was granted "unprecedented discretion" in the case. "My client wants closure as quickly as possible."
Christopher Carver, Milstein's attorney, was next at the podium and found himself justifying the appointment of the guardian ad litem and his power in deciding burial.
"This case is not complicated," Carver said. "The only thing I have an objection to is any further delay to the burial of Anna Nicole Smith."
Carver said that the guardian ad litem was appointed to look out for the best interests of the child, in this case five-month-old Dannielynn. The attorney argued that what is in the best interests of the child is figuring out "who gets the right to determine the disposition of her remains."
"The guardian ad litem is a guardian ad litem," the judges said. "Not a guardian."
Stern's attorney was next up, to echo Carver's argument validating Milstein and to dispute the validity of a statute that Mandel based her argument on.
"The intentions of the decedent are paramount," she said. "We don't have a dispute on what Ms. Smith wanted...There is no question that Dannielynn is the next of kin."
Prior to recessing, the judges questioned whether a funeral was already in the works. Carver said that a service was slated for Friday morning in the Bahamas, pending their ruling.
Meanwhile, Florida family court Judge Lawrence Korda finally ruled on an emergency motion filed by Birkhead's team last Friday requesting Korda to enforce an order by a California judge to test the DNA of both Smith and Dannielynn to determine the child's paternity.
Korda rejected the request to take a DNA sample from Dannielynn, claiming he did not have the jurisdiction to do so. But he did order a sampling of Smith's DNA be turned over to Birkhead's lawyers. He also ruled that the remainder of DNA taken from Smith's body after her death remain preserved.
Smith, 39, died in a Florida hotel room. The cause of her death remains under investigation and Perper announced Wednesday that toxicology reports were expected in roughly 10 days.