Magistrate removed from inquest
NASSAU, Bahamas – A magistrate presiding over an inquest into the death of Anna Nicole Smith’s 20-year-old son in the Bahamas was dismissed Monday by a judge who scolded him for discussing the case in a television interview.Supreme Court Justice John Lyons said Magistrate Roger Gomez should have told the media to “buzz off” when they asked about the investigation into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Daniel Smith.”Things have got to be done properly,” Lyons said.Howard K. Stern, the attorney-turned-partner of the late reality TV star, arrived alone for the hearing and there were none of the camera crews that previously attended the high-profile court battles over where to bury Smith and the custody of her infant daughter.The inquest was convened to determine whether her son’s death was accidental, suicide or perhaps even a homicide.Daniel Smith died Sept. 10 as he visited his mother three days after she gave birth in a Nassau hospital to her daughter, Dannielynn. Authorities say he died from a combination of drugs including methadone and antidepressants.Anna Nicole Smith died in Florida on Feb. 8 at age 39 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, including a powerful sleep aid that a lawyer for Stern said she took to cope with grief over her son’s death.The inquest has been delayed by a challenge from Stern’s legal team, which wants jurors to take a questionnaire to test for possible bias. Lyons said that the magistrate who will replace Gomez in the case will rule on whether to allow the questionnaire. The magistrate has not yet been named.The Bahamian Coroner’s Court had picked a seven-member jury, but they will be discharged and no date has been scheduled for the inquest to resume.Gomez is the second official involved with Smith’s case to be reassigned for remarks to the media. Chief coroner Linda Virgill was removed by judicial officials for telling reporters that Daniel Smith’s death was “suspicious.”Stern, who came to the Bahamas with Smith last year, has been living in the waterfront home they shared. He gave up custody of her infant daughter last spring after DNA tests proved Smith’s ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead is the father.