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    It's Official: Birkhead's the Daddy!

    Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern just became Dannielynn Hope Marshall Birkhead.

    After six months of international legal wrangling, DNA swabbing and accusations of fraud, a genetic expert announced in a closed-door hearing in Bahamian court Tuesday that the father of Anna Nicole Smith's child is Larry Birkhead.

    "I told you so!" a triumphant Birkhead said to applause outside the courthouse, adding with hands held high that his DNA was a "99.9999 percent" match.

    "I'm excited," said the Kentucky native. "I'm happy to start a life with my daughter...Things are moving quickly here."

    Howard K. Stern, the man listed as Dannielynn's father on her Bahamian birth certificate and the girl's sole parental figure since Anna Nicole Smith's death two months ago, said that he would not contest Birkhead's right to custody.

    "My feelings for Dannielynn have not changed," Stern said. "I'm not going to fight Larry Birkhead for custody. I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that he gets sole custody."

    While Birkhead has been established as the father of Dannielynn, a hearing to determine custody is set to take place on Friday.

    Smith's estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, filed paperwork last week asking to be named the child's guardian.

    But speaking to reporters after Tuesday's announcement, Arthur and her lawyer struck a more conciliatory tone, saying the Texas police officer merely wanted to play a role in the infant's life.

    "All I care about and all I ever cared about is the safety and well-being of my little granddaughter, Dannielynn," Arthur said. "I look forward to working with Larry raising my granddaughter and doing what is very best for her."

    Asked how Smith might feel if she were alive, Arthur replied: "I think she would be happy to know that Dannielynn will find out who her father is."

    Arthur, whose relationship with Stern can be called icy at best, had publicly supported Birkhead's paternity bid. (For a guide to all the major players, check out our Anna Nicole cheat sheet.)

    All three principals and their respective attorneys attended the private hearing, which lasted just over a half-hour. Birkhead was also accompanied by his brother and sister and their kids.

    Before heading in to the Nassau courthouse, he told reporters he was "feeling good," "confident" and "hopeful" that his contingent would "leave with one more."

    "I'm a little tired, but I'm ready to get this over with."

    While the disputed daddy drama played out in innumerable headlines, the case ironically wound up coming to a close in a decidedly nonpublic forum: No reporters were allowed in the courtroom, and everyone connected to the case has been, per Bahamian law, subject to a sweeping gag order.

    However, due to the intense public interest in the hearing's outcome, the judge allowed the parties to break from the order and announce what had transpired behind closed doors.

    Birkhead's paternity was authenticated in court by Dr. Michael Baird, an Ohio-based DNA specialist who tested samples obtained from Birkhead and Dannielynn on Mar. 21.

    Baird testified to what Birkhead has spent nearly seven months proclaiming both in and out of court: "Essentially, [Birkhead]'s the biological father," Baird said. "Congratulations, Larry."

    Stern, listed as the girl's father on her birth certificate, was neither ordered nor volunteered to submit a genetic sample for testing.

    After the hearing, Stern invited Birkhead back to his house to spend time with Dannielynn but added that he would like the hand-off of Dannielynn to be a "gradual transition period."

    Prince Frederic Von Anhalt, the husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor and a late entry into the paternity race, did quite eagerly offer up his own DNA sample last month, but he was never deemed a viable candidate. He was not present for Tuesday's hearing.

    Once the custody issue is resolved, Birkhead hopes to take Dannielynn back to his Los Angeles home, where the photographer has been setting up a nursery.

    The 34-year-old soon-to-be single parent told MSNBC Monday that any court victory would be bittersweet, as he is now faced with the prospect of raising Dannielynn, a daughter he says he and Smith planned to have together, without her.

    "Even when I make decisions, I kind of listen to a little voice to tell me, you know, what she thinks, you know, what she might wish me to do, or just kind of gives me the strength to, you know, this fight's worthwhile, you know, this is for the daughter we planned.

    "I guess you have to walk this road alone...It's tough...I think that I'm just going to be looking over my shoulder all the time for Anna, and she's not there to help me, you know."

    Dannielynn was born Sept. 7. Three days later, Daniel Smith, the former Playmate's son from her first marriage, died while visiting his mother and sister in the hospital. (An inquest is set to begin this week.)

    Anna Nicole Smith died Feb. 8 of an accidental overdose of prescription medication. She and her son are buried in a Nassau cemetery.

    As Smith's sole surviving child, Dannielynn is in line for the bulk of Smith's estate. Depending on future court rulings, the child could come into a significant portion of $500 million left behind by Smith's late husband, oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II.

    While Smith and Stern publicly claimed Stern fathered Dannielynn, Birkhead refused to back down. He filed his paternity claim in early October, first in California and then in the Bahamas, eventually tallying a legal bill in excess of $600,000.

    Although his role has been diminished, Stern will remain a player in the Smith saga. Aside from being executor of Smith's estate, he has retained a high-octane Los Angeles lawyer to go after media outlets who suggested he might have had a role in the deaths of Anna Nicole and Daniel.

    Even though Birkhead plans to take Dannielynn back to California, Stern said he had no intention of changing his current living situation.

    "I'm staying in the Bahamas," he said. "I can never leave Anna and Danny behind."

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