MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Chief Medical examiner Dr. Bruce Hyma took the witness stand Monday in the trial of Aventura developer Adam Kaufman to defend his office’s handling of the case.
Dr. Hyma said it appeared from the start that Lina Kaufman was the victim of a homicide. It took Dr. Hyma roughly 18 months to officially call it a murder.
Defense attorneys have said that’s because the medical examiner couldn’t figure out what killed her and in the end got it wrong.
Dr. Hyma testified the delay was due to toxicology and other testing, including an extraordinary neurological examination of Lina’s brain.
Earlier in the day, the state tipped its hand as to why they suspect Aventura developer Adam Kaufman allegedly killed his wife Lina in 2007.
During an argument before Judge Bronwyn Miller out of earshot of the jury, prosecutor Mathew Baldwin said Kaufman was looking for a new woman to be with.
“He’s asking this girl out with his dead wife’s wedding ring on his finger the next month, in December of ’07. By January and February, they’re having regular sex,” prosecutor Mathew Baldwin said. “He was not exactly devastated by his wife’s passing. The best analogy I can think of is when Casey Anthony was getting a tattoo.”
The reference to the notorious Anthony murder case brought howls of protest from the defense.
The state was forced to admit that it had no evidence that Kaufman was unfaithful to his wife prior to her death.
“After Lina passed away, Adam is still wearing his wedding ring,” defense attorney William Matthewman said. “He had to be forced to go out. He had to be pushed to go out.”
Miller ruled they would not be allowed to hear about Kaufman’s dating after his wife’s death, ruling that it was not sufficiently relevant.
Matthewman asked for a mistrial, arguing that the state tainted the jury with a question about the dating that was cut off by the judge. The judge denied the mistrial, but instructed the jury to disregard the prosecutor’s aborted question.
Earlier in the morning, two of Lina Kaufman’s friends gave emotional testimony. Rina Azulay cried on the stand as she identified her former best friend from her wedding photo.
Azulay testified Lina Kaufman was active and healthy. Another good friend, Melissa Fedowitz, wept as she described Lina as a “one in a million, strong, happy, vibrant friend.”
Both Fedowitz and Azulay back the prosecutor’s claim that Lina was a healthy, active woman and that Kaufman strangled her in the bathroom of their condo. Kaufman’s defense team claims Lina had health issues and the day she died she had a heart attack and hit her neck on a magazine rack as she collapsed. They also claim the investigation into Kaufman’s death was shoddy.
Last Thursday, the defense successfully attacked the morals and honesty of the police department’s lead CSI investigator Detective Ana Howell.
On the stand, Howell acknowledged she had an adulterous affair with the lead homicide detective on the case, Anthony Angulo. She also admitted to lying in earlier testimony; not being truthful about her relationship with the fellow cop.
The defense called Howell a perjurer, asking if she misrepresented the facts under oath.
“Yes or no, Ma’am, is that true,” William Matthewman asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
It was a damaging moment for the prosecution, a “gotcha” moment for the defense and a humiliating moment for Howell who stormed from the courtroom slamming the door behind her.
The case started in November 2007 when a hysterical Adam Kaufman called 911 and said that he had awakened after a night of sleep to find his wife in the bathroom, unconscious, her neck draped over a bar on a magazine rack.
During her time on the stand last week, Officer Linda Alvarez testified that when she arrived at Kaufman’s residence the morning of Lina Kaufman’s death, the hood of Adam Kaufman’s car was still warm. Her testimony was intended to counter Kaufman’s claim that he had been asleep all night. On cross-examination, Alvarez said she didn’t know who had been driving the car. In previous testimony, the state has shown that Lina Kaufman sometimes drover her husband’s Mercedes.
Kaufman, who is charged with second degree murder, could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted.