The sad saga of Anna Nicole Smith's son ended Monday, as a Bahamian jury ruled that the Sept. 10, 2006, death of 20-year-old Daniel Smith was the result of an accidental drug overdose.
The panel recommended that no criminal charges be filed and further concluded that the overdose was the result of "non-dependent use of drugs," meaning Smith was neither addicted to the drugs that led to his death nor aware that their combination could be fatal.
The verdict came less than two hours after the jury began deliberations. The delay-plagued inquest began in November of last year.
Word of the ruling—which is official, but in no way legally binding—comes more than a week after the Nassau court ruled out murder as one of the four death options the seven-member, all-female jury was given to debate.
Aside from accidental overdose and nondependent drug use, "misadventure" and "open verdict" were the choices given to the panel.
A private autopsy conducted shortly after Daniel's death found that he had died from a toxic combination of methadone, antidepressants and sleeping pills. He also declared the death "suspicious," which forced the case to go to inquest. The proceedings finally kicked into gear in the past few weeks after several delays—including the replacement of two judges—and featured the high-profile testimony of Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead.
Stern was the last person to see Daniel alive in his mother's hospital room at Nassau's Doctors Hospital, just days after the birth of his sister, Dannielynn. But the inquest panel found that Stern had no hand in the young man's death, scuttling conspiracy theories about the death offered by the tabloid media and Virgie Arthur, Anna Nicole's estranged mother.
For her part, Arthur has already expressed disappointment in the ruling, with her attorney, Neil McCabe, telling reporters outside the courthouse that, "We don't think it makes any sense."
Stern, too, commented on the verdict, saying he was unsure if it would signal an end to the already lengthy proceedings.
Referring to Arthur and her arsenal of attorneys, and their penchant for legal battles, he said, "I have no control over them."
Anna Nicole Smith died five months after her son, on Feb. 8, 2007, also of an accidental prescription overdose. Both have since been interred in side-by-side graves in a Nassau cemetery.