Anna Nicole's mother seeks guardianship

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) - Anna Nicole Smith's mother wants to be named guardian of the former Playboy model's 5-month-old daughter, fearing Smith's partner will leave with the infant as he faces a three-way paternity dispute, her lawyers said Wednesday.

Lawyers for Vergie Arthur said they will go before a judge in the Bahamas on Feb. 22 to seek custody of the infant, whose paternity has been challenged, from Smith's partner, Howard K. Stern.

Desmar Henfield, one of several Bahamian attorney's working on Arthur's case, said they would argue that the grandmother can provide a more stable home environment than Stern, who has moved back to the mansion the couple shared before Smith died last week in Florida.

''Howard Stern's environment - all the media attention, all the uncertainty - I don't think that is a stable and secure place for a baby at this point,'' Henfield said.

Stern did not return phone calls seeking comment.

On Tuesday, Arthur's lawyers won a partial victory when a judge barred Stern from taking the infant out of the island nation until a decision is made on custody.

Wayne Munroe, an attorney for Smith's estate in the Bahamas, said Arthur never showed concern for her granddaughter until the death of the former Playmate, who would have rejected her bid for guardianship.

''Howard knew and the whole world knew that Anna Nicole did not consider her as her mother,'' Munroe said.

Arthur was in Miami on Wednesday as she sought to secure the release of her daughter's body for burial in Texas, Henfield said.

Arthur requested the injunction to keep her granddaughter in the Bahamas because she fears Stern will try to leave with the infant, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, as he faces a three-way paternity dispute.

Three men claim to have fathered the baby girl, who could potentially inherit a multimillion-dollar fortune. Since the death in 1995 of her 90-year-old husband, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, Smith had been waging a court battle over his estate.

A birth certificate lists Stern as the girl's father. But Smith's former boyfriend Larry Birkhead has gone to court in Florida in pursuit of DNA testing to prove he is the father. And Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of the actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, has said he had a decade-long affair with Smith and will file his own paternity challenge.

Meanwhile, some members of the Bahamas political opposition repeated their calls for the resignation of Immigration Minister Shane Gibson, who was seen embracing Anna Nicole Smith in photographs that emerged earlier this week. The photos had revived claims that Gibson showed Smith preferential treatment by approving her application for permanent residency.

''The prime minister should fire the immigration minister because what he has done has embarrassed the Bahamas internationally,'' said Cassius Stuart, leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement.

Another small faction, the Workers Party, held a small demonstration across from the pink, colonial-style House of Assembly as lawmakers arrived for a meeting. Three members of the party carried placards saying ''Fire Shane!''

Several tourists strolling through Nassau's palm-lined streets stopped to photograph the scene of international camera crews following government ministers outside parliament.

Smith gave birth to her daughter Sept. 7, three days before her 20-year-old son Daniel died while visiting her in a Nassau hospital. A private examiner concluded that he died from a lethal combination of methadone and two antidepressants.

A jury inquest into Daniel's death has been scheduled for March 26.