MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For a third day, Miami-Dade’s Medical Examiner took the stand in the murder trial of Aventura developer Adam Kaufman who is charged in the 2007 death of his wife.
At the opening of Wednesday’s proceedings, defense attorney Al Milian accused prosecutors of colluding with Dr. Bruce Hyma overnight and demanded a mistrial. Milian said prosecutors violated the rules which say witnesses may not discuss their testimony outside of the courtroom. An angry Milian also accused Hyma of miraculously locating tissue samples that had been “lost” at the ME’s office. The slides showed no damage to Lina Kaufman’s heart.
The defense claims Lina had a bad heart and the day she died, she had a heart attack in the bathroom and collapsed, her neck ended up draped over a magazine rack.
The judge denied the motion for a mistrial.
State prosecutors then began their redirect of Hyma in which they focused on his earlier testimony that there was no medical evidence that she had a bad heart and the magazine basket could not have inflicted the deep injuries to her neck. Hyman said scratches on Lina Kaufman’s neck were consistent with her trying to claw someone’s hands from around her throat.
During the defense’s turn at re-cross examination, Hyma testified that the “missing” slides were not really missing just difficult to find amid the myriad of evidence. He said he found them last night. In calling for a mistrial, Milian said Hyma may have committed perjury through his conflicting testimony about the slides. In an earlier sworn statement, Hyma had stated that the slides were lost.
Afternoon testimony included a Miami-Dade CSI technician who testified that Lina Kaufman’s blood and DNA were found under her finger nails which suggested that scratches on her neck were the result of her attempt to claw something from around her throat.
Also taking the stand was a physicist called by the state who said it would have been physically impossible for Lina to fall off the toilet, her neck landing on a magazine rack, as the defense has claimed.
Adam Kaufman claims he woke up November 7th and found Lina unconscious in the bathroom, her neck draped over a magazine rack.
Hyma testified earlier this week that the deep strangulation bruising found on Kaufman’s neck could not have been caused by the flimsy magazine holder. On cross-examination, however, he conceded that he never examined the magazine rack.
During questioning on Monday, Hyma said it took 18 months to rule Kaufman’s death a murder because he wanted to get it right, rather than fast. Hyma said it appeared from the start that Lina Kaufman was murdered. He said that part of the delay was due to toxicology and other testing, including an extraordinary neurological examination of Lina Kaufman’s brain.
On cross-examination, the defense tried to show the M.E. and police were under pressure to make a call and they made the wrong call. Defense attorneys have said that’s because the medical examiner couldn’t figure out what killed her and in the end got it wrong.
Kaufman, who is charged with second degree murder, could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted.