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Officials: Smith's death caused by overdose

Story Highlights

NEW: Stern's attorney calls death a tragic accident
• Medical examiner: Smith on several prescription medications
• Smith died more than six weeks ago in Florida
• Controversy remains over who fathered Smith's infant daughter
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) -- An accidental overdose of prescription drugs killed former reality TV star and Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith, Seminole tribal police Chief Charlie Tiger said Monday.

Tiger said the case was now closed.

"We are convinced, based on extensive review of the evidence, that this case is an accidental overdose with no other criminal element present," Tiger said at a news conference announcing Smith's autopsy results. (Watch police chief's conclusions on investigation Video)

Lilly Ann Sanchez, Howard K. Stern's attorney, read a statement from her client Monday afternoon and called the death a tragic accident. "At no time was there any indication of wrongdoing, whatsoever," Sanchez said. "It's horrible, it's painful, it's tragic, but it is an accident."

Sanchez accused the media of "outrageous speculation" when reporting on Smith's death.

"Howard does not feel vindicated... He has lost the most important person in his life," the attorney said.

Sanchez said Stern 'loved Anna completely.'

"He is deeply saddened and his loss is immense," Sanchez said.

An unresponsive Smith was found February 8 in a room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood, Florida. She was taken to a hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Several prescription medications -- both in Smith's name and that of her partner and lawyer, Stern -- were found in the room.

Joshua Perper, Broward County medical examiner, said prescription and over-the-counter drugs were found in Smith's system, including three antidepressants or antianxiety drugs.

Also found in toxicology testing was human growth hormone and chloral hydrate, a sleep medication, Perper said.

"She didn't suffer," he said. "She went to sleep."

Perper said the drugs in Smith's system acted on the respiration and circulation systems and basically shut them down.

The medical examiner said he did not believe that Smith tried to kill herself, as some had suggested, because of the large amount of chloral hydrate remaining in the bottle, and the normal levels of the other medications in her system.

"If they want to kill themselves they usually take a lot," Perper said.

During the course of the autopsy, filed under Smith's legal name of Vickie Lynn Marshall, doctors found evidence that Smith had an abscess in her left buttock that had been perforated by a needle, probably when she took injections of either the growth hormone or vitamin B-12, the medical examiner explained. (Full autopsy report -- PDF (contains graphic content))

The perforation allowed bacteria to get into Smith's blood, which caused a high fever in the days before her death. She was being treated with Tamiflu and Cipro, one an antiviral medication and the other an antibiotic, Perper said.

He also theorized that Smith would have lived had she sought treatment for the fever and infection at a hospital, "because (there) she wouldn't have had the opportunity to take the chloral hydrate."

He said the abscess and a case of flu were contributory causes in Smith's death.

Smith was buried in the Bahamas March 2 next to the grave of her son, Daniel, who died in September, shortly after the birth of her daughter, Dannielynn.

His death was ruled an accidental overdose of three antidepressant medications: methadone, Lexapro and Zoloft, according to forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, who performed a private autopsy at the request of his mother.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force has said its findings reflected those of the private autopsy, but an inquest is to start March 27 in the Bahamas to determine the official cause of Daniel's death.

Meanwhile, controversy has swirled over the identity of the father of Dannielynn. Stern and two other men have claimed paternity.

In 1994, Smith married 89-year-old Texas oil magnate Howard Marshall II. He died the next year, and until her death, Smith was involved in a legal battle over the inheritance that included a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

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The investigation into the death of Anna Nicole Smith is closed, police said Monday.


Toxic, lethal drug:
• Chloral Hydrate

Therapeutic drugs:
• Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, an antihistamine)
• Clonazepam (Klonopin, anti-seizure drug, also used for panic attacks)
• Diazepam (Valium, used to treat anxiety)
• Nordiazepam (metabolite, produced in digestion of diazepam)
• Temazepam (metabolite, also produced during digestion of diazepam)
• Oxazepam (used to treat anxiety)
• Lorazepam (Ativan, used to treat anxiety)

Other drugs:
• Atropine (a drug used in resuscitation)
• Topiramate (Topomax, used to treat seizures, migraines, and sometimes
used as weight control drug)
• Ciprofloxacin (Cipro, an antibiotic)
• Acetaminophen (like Tylenol)

Source: Broward County medical examiner


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