Inquest Ordered Into Daniel Smith's Death
Daniel and Anna Nicole Smith in 2004
The death of Anna Nicole Smith's eldest child Daniel Wayne Smith will be investigated by a Bahamian court in an inquest to begin on March 26, Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez tells PEOPLE.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding Daniel's death that we want to clear up, " says Gomez, who made his decision after reviewing Royal Bahamas Police reports over the weekend.
During the inquest, a magistrate will investigate where, when and by what manner Daniel died in Doctors Hospital in Nassau on Sept. 10, 2006. Just three days prior, his mother, 39, gave birth to Daniel's half-sister, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. The 20-year-old had flown to Nassau from California to meet the baby and visit with his mother.
Gomez says that a witness list will tally "in excess of 20 people," including everyone who was in the room where Daniel died. So far, "no witnesses have been notified yet," says Gomez
According to Gomez, the inquest will cover more than the 12 hours or so that Daniel was in The Bahamas. "It won't be confined to any particular time," Gomez says. "It will be open, concentrating mainly on, but not limited to, before he left California."
After Daniel's death, Dr. Cyril Wecht, a U.S. pathologist hired by Anna Nicole, found during a second autopsy conducted in Nassau that Methadone, Zoloft and Lexapro were in the young man's body.
In October, officers from the Royal Bahamas Police Force flew to California to interview people who knew Daniel.
Anna Nicole Smith's Bahamian lawyer, Wayne R. Munroe, told PEOPLE last week that an inquest could be quashed.
"Her position is to comply with the law," Munroe said of his client. "You have to remember that in the beginning of all of this, not much was known (surrounding the circumstances of Daniel's death.) She's not at complete peace, but she is more at peace than she was at the beginning. In my judgment there is no reason to have an inquest, but I have not talked with her about it."
Anna Nicole is also facing a legal challenge as to the paternity of her daughter, Dannielynn. Howard K. Stern was named as the baby's father on her Bahamian birth certificate. However, Anna Nicole's former boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, is suing her in both Bahamas and California courts, alleging that he is the child's father.